Informed is the Perfect Way to Be
By Alexis Dailey
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center is built on our mission statement which reads:
“The Sacramento LGBT Community Center works to create a region where LGBTQ people thrive. We support the health and wellness of the most marginalized, advocate for equality and justice, and work to build a culturally rich LGBTQ community.”
As the population and diversity in Sacramento continues to grow, so do the numbers of new HIV diagnoses. Sacramento’s TGA (Transitional Grant Area) reports that there has been a 23.2% growth in new HIV/AIDS over the past 5 years. The Center itself has identified five new positive HIV cases in the region in the past eight weeks. This is not a coincidence given the stigmas placed upon those living with HIV/AIDS, the LGBT community, condom/barrier usage, and sex in general that have been perpetuated by conservative heteronormative supremacist ideals. Now those stigmas have bled into the communities that benefitted from them, and the statistics show it: The Ryan White Program has reported an increase of transmissions from 1997-2017 at a rate of 185% for heterosexual clients.
As we continue to strive towards The Center’s goal of ZERO new HIV infections in the Sacramento Region, the most marginalized of us continue to be the most affected by HIV. These populations include queer men, those who live below the poverty line, people of color–specifically the Latinx and Black communities–and Transgender women.
Transwomen of color are often excluded in the building of feminist work, the fight to improve the lives of people of color, and they face many layers of barriers in the LGBTQ community. The erasure they experience is not only at the ballot, but also found in medical field, with lack of health reports on their population. This also applies to the way they are treated by the criminal justice system. On Saturday, November, 11th, 2018, members of the Transgender community took to the streets in the spirit of Social Justice and demanded the public to “Give us our Roses Now,” indicating the unnoticed fear of terror and murder they carry everywhere they go. HIV/AIDS numbers are especially found to be harming those of us who are fighting to exist on a daily basis.
The central theme for this year’s World AIDS Day was “Know Your HIV Status.” In 2017, 9.4 million people worldwide were simply unaware that they are living with a potentially deadly, but treatable, disease. If people don’t know their HIV status, people who are living with HIV can’t start treatment, and people who are HIV-negative can’t get the knowledge and skills they need to keep that way. If people don’t know their HIV status, they can’t protect themselves, their families, their partners. If people living with HIV don’t know their viral load, they won’t be sure that the treatment is effective, protecting their health and stopping HIV transmission.
Here in Sacramento County, nearly all (97.0%) new AIDS cases in 2015 were diagnosed with Stage 3 HIV infection (AIDS) within one year of initial HIV diagnosis. These results are staggering and are disproportionately impacting communities of color. The number of new HIV infections among Hispanics more than doubled compared to 2006 and African Americans had the highest rates of both newly‐diagnosed HIV (24.6 per 100,000 population) and AIDS (5.5 per 100,000) cases.
This year’s World AIDS Day
December 1st, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day. Each year, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center holds an event to remember and celebrate the lives of those we have lost to AIDS, as well as those who continue their fight for survival every day. The Sacramento LGBT Community Center focuses on those with the highest needs by offering several ways to be informed and safe in a place where people can feel free. The Center offers FREE HIV and HCV testing appointments to the community during business hours, with drop in-testing available 12 p.m.-4p.m. M-F. These tests can happen on-site or in our mobile testing unit. In addition, The Center offers free barriers such as condoms, lube, dental dams, and more. These items can also be sent by mail to those who request them though the P3 (Prophylaxis Parcel Project) option on the Center’s website. Through all of these initiatives, we will continue to normalize HIV testing in our community. They will know that informed is the perfect way to be for all of us, and it is how we all can begin to step into freedom.
Alexis Dailey is the Health Educator & Testing Coordinator for Sacramento LGBT Community Center.