HAS RHODE ISLAND FAILED TO CONDUCT ADEQUATE OUTREACH TO GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN? WHY? As a state I think there is an urgent need to pay much more attention to and invest in HIV prevention for gay and bisexual men, because at least in terms of funding community efforts, they have been largely neglected. For example, in April 2011, the Rhode Island Department of Health gave out about $491,000 to six community agencies to perform HIV prevention, and not a single dollar of it targets adult gay men (ages 22 and over). The factors responsible for this predicament are complex, and in order to address them my current focus is on the future and how we can facilitate change by requiring that state HIV funding has financial "carve-outs" earmarked for high-risk groups in proportion with disease burden, building capacity to conduct HIV prevention in communities, and ensuring that the voices of those most impacted by HIV/AIDS are being heard.
AFTER AN OUTBREAK OF SYPHILIS AMONG GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN, THE STATE ASKED THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION TO CONDUCT SURVEYS OF THIS POPULATION AND RECOMMEND INTERVENTIONS. CDC'S REPORT IS DUE AT THE END OF THE YEAR. WHAT KIND OF RECOMMENDATIONS ARE YOU EXPECTING? CAN WE COUNT ON THE STATE TO FOLLOW THROUGH? The CDC report may provide some general insights about the demographics and behaviors of the men that completed surveys, however, I think we need to immediately start focusing on a local response with the following realities in mind: most gay and bisexual don't know about syphilis and how to prevent it, the only public STD clinic was recently shut down due to state budget cuts, and many men struggle with finding "gay-friendly" doctors. I don't think we need to wait for the CDC report to take action and I don't think we can afford to wait any longer — since the outbreak started two years ago. Work needs to begin right now on the development and implementation of a comprehensive syphilis prevention plan.
: This Just In
, Rhode Island, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Relationships, More