The head of the National Association of People with AIDS stressed that he feels it remains important to honor those who have lost their battle with the virus.
“We deserve to have our own day because we have to commemorate,” said Frank Oldham, Jr., as he discussed National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day that will take place on Sept. 27. “For me, AIDS has always been the Holocaust for gay men, gay men of color. It doesn’t matter. This for our community is the worst thing that happened to us, so I’m very proud that we have National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.”
NAPWA will mark National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which it first organized in 2008, with a day-long conference at the Barbara Jordan Conference Center at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in downtown Washington on Sept. 28. It will feature panels on gay men and HIV/AIDS policy, the impact that the 2010 health care reform law that President Obama signed has had on those with the virus, dating among those who are positive and other topics. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is also scheduled to hold a press conference with NAPWA outside the Wilson Building to commemorate National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Oldham noted that NAPWA has also invited Human Rights Campaign staffers, gay doctors with HIV and other HIV/AIDS service providers to participate in the conference. He said his organization has also invited California Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, gay U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Dr. Gregory Pappas of the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis Administration to take part.
HIV/AIDS activists and others will also release balloons in Dupont Circle to commemorate those who were lost to the virus on the day itself.
“This day is important because of our history,” said Oldham, who lived in New York City’s Chelsea and Greenwich Village neighborhoods during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. “It’s as important as Stonewall because it’s a mark on our history.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.2 million Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2008 — and 20 percent of them were unaware of their status. The CDC further estimates that men who have sex with men accounted for 49 percent of people with the virus in the United States during this same period. White and black MSM were the groups with the highest rate of new infections in 2009.
The CDC further noted that the epidemic has killed nearly 594,000 Americans since it reported the first cases of what became known as AIDS in 1981.
Oldham, who tested positive for the HIV virus 23 years ago, said that homophobia, racism and socio-economic status within communities of color remain barriers in preventing the spread of HIV and treating those with the virus.
“That’s a huge barrier, especially for people who are poor and disenfranchised,” he said. “Today we have an opportunity as gay men to talk about homophobia as a barrier, being open, being out and saying to people get tested, know your status. But also we have an opportunity to prevent new infections and we need to be part of the solution.”
Oldham also defended his comments to the Washington Blade ahead of last year’s National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day where he described bathhouses, circuit parties and other gatherings as part of a “beautiful, gay male culture.”
“The bathhouses, the circuit parties, the cafes, the gayborhoods we call home are all part of that culture as well as marriage — the right to get married,” he said. “For two gay men who want to get married, who want to adopt kids, who want to raise a family like that, that’s all part of it. The beautiful thing about gay male culture is that it represents so many different kinds of people.”
Oldham, who lead the city’s response to HIV/AIDS under then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly in the early 1990s, further applauded D.C.’s response to the epidemic. He specifically praised the nation’s capital’s treatment-on-demand that connects people with HIV to care and the city’s needle exchange program that has prompted a 72 percent decrease in new infections among intravenous drug between 2007 and 2010.
“We have a city that I think for PWAs [people with AIDS] is one of the best places that you can possibly live—there’s care, there’s compassion. Of course there’s going to be AIDS stigma and homophobia in some places, but having a mayor that takes the leadership in preventing that and is outspoken about that makes a big difference,” said Oldham, who stressed he would like to see D.C. secure additional federal funding to further sustain these programs. “The District has become what I wanted it to become when I was here, the national model for how you deal with AIDS in a major city. And it is to be commended for it.”
Oldham also praised the national HIV/AIDS strategy that the Obama administration announced in 2010.
“HIV for all the tragedy that it has brought, has really forced us to have the opportunity to advance our social justice issues,” he said, noting it specifically calls for the reduction of homophobia and anti-AIDS stigma through culturally competent prevention and treatment programs. “By implementing the national AIDS strategy, you have to enforce the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS so when they get tested, they don’t go to jail. It begins to enforce things like that.”
Md. biotech company’s HIV cure project clears first hurdle
‘We all have something to be excited about’
American Gene Technologies, the Rockville, Md., biotech company, has announced that the first patient to receive its genetically engineered treatment therapy aimed at curing people of HIV/AIDS encountered no adverse side effects from the treatment.
In an Aug. 2 statement, AGT said that based on the data obtained from Patient One in its Phase 1 human trial of its HIV treatment called AGT103-T, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board voted unanimously to allow AGT to continue its HIV cure program without modification.
“The AGT103-T pipeline is a therapy for treating HIV disease,” the company’s statement says. “The therapy is designed to induce durable viral suppression by delivering therapeutic genes to the recipient’s immune cells,” it says. “The resulting immune cells are expected to survive attack by HIV and durably suppress the virus at undetectable levels without the need for antiretroviral treatment.”
The thumbs up decision by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board allows the company to continue its clinical trial with more participants to further confirm the HIV treatment’s safety outcome. The next phase in the trials will be to determine the treatment’s effectiveness in fully protecting the human body from HIV.
“We have six more patients,” said AGT CEO Jeff Galvin in referring to the patients who will be tested for possible adverse side effects in the coming weeks. Galvin spoke at a July 29 gathering to celebrate the success of Patient One at AGT’s headquarters offices in Rockville.
“If this works, they will be permanently immune from HIV,” he said. “Just think what this can do with the epidemic. We all have something to be excited about,” he told the gathering of about 100 people.
“Keep your fingers crossed. Let’s all keep hoping and praying,” Galvin said. “We will know by the middle of next year,” he said, referring to when the human trials will likely determine whether the AGT103-T treatment, which has successfully stopped HIV from infecting human cells in laboratory experiments, will work just as effectively on people with HIV.
92% of LGBTQ+ adults have received at least one dose for COVID-19
59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, & 50% reported that it impacted their mental health.
NEW YORK – A summary of data collected as part of the annual LGBTQ+ Community Survey by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, found that the vast majority – 92% – of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed in the United States had received at least one vaccination for Covid-19.
Although vaccination rates vary somewhat within the LGBTQ+ community, the rates across race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and age are well above the rates for various general adult populations where the data are available:
- By race and ethnicity, 90% of Latinx respondents, 85% of Black respondents, 96% of Asian or Pacific Islander respondents, and 85% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
- By gender identity and sexual orientation, 92% of cisgender lesbian and bi+ women, 93% of cisgender gay and bi+ men, and 92% of transgender and non-binary people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
- By age, 91% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 18-34, 92% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 35-5, and 94% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 55 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine
While vaccination rates are high, Covid-19 took a toll on well-being among respondents. The survey finds that 59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, and 50% of respondents reported that it impacted their mental health.
“Increasing vaccination rates among communities of color is a major focus for us, and working with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gives us the opportunity to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ communities of color. We look forward to continuing our support and outreach.” said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President of Equity and Economic Opportunity at The Rockefeller Foundation.
The data finds the Covid-19 pandemic led to social and financial loss, especially among LGBTQ+ people of color:
- 21% of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed reported that a close family member or friend has died from Covid-19
- LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed reported higher levels of loss due to Covid-19 compared to white LGBTQ+ people:
- 30% of Latinx LGBTQ+ respondents
- 28% of Black LGBTQ+ respondents
- 25% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ respondents, among other race identities
- 18% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ respondents
- 17% of white LGBTQ+ respondents
- 36% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that a close friend or family member has become very sick from Covid-19
- 24% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their financial well-being
- LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed are more likely than white LGBTQ+ people to have experienced a negative financial impact during the pandemic:
- 33% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities
- 26% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ adults
- 26% of Latinx LGBTQ+ adults
- 25% of Black LGBTQ+ adults
- 22% of white LGBTQ+ adults
“There are many reasons why LGBTQ+ vaccination rates may be higher than the general population, including higher percentages of the LGBTQ+ community being liberal, living in blue states, and living in urban areas,” said CMI Senior Director of Research, David Paisley. “While participants had strong education levels, those with no more than a high school diploma still had an 87% vaccination rate. We also see that Covid isolation significantly impacted LGBTQ+ people, which may have motivated quick vaccination to reenter the community.”
The new data build on the HRC Foundation’s previously released reports, including the most recent report, “Covid-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic,” which was released as a part of the HRC Foundation’s vaccine public education campaign: “For Ourselves, For Each Other: Getting to the Other Side of the Pandemic.” The HRC Foundation has also partnered with the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition on a resource, “Finding Financial Stability During Turbulent Times,” with steps and advice for those who may be struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times. Read more about the HRC Foundation’s efforts during Covid-19 here.
The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on a number of Covid-19-related projects to support research and community education to reach LGBTQ communities of color during this crisis through The Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative. Learn more here.
Cornell University study on impact of discrimination on LGBTQ of color
Around 25% of LGBTQ youth have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts
ITHACA, NY. – Cornell University’s What We Know Project in conjunction with a coalition of leading LGBTQ rights groups last month published a comprehensive curation of data on studies that chart the intersection of anti-LGBTQ and racial discrimination.
The findings found that discrimination inflicts profoundly greater harm on LGBTQ people of color in a wide range of areas, including grossly disproportionate rates of: experiencing discrimination over the past year, poorer mental and physical health, greater economic insecurity, and attempts to die by suicide.
In addition, LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ people to live in states without protections against discrimination and that state anti-LGBTQ laws harm LGBTQ people.
“This research brief makes clear the tangible harms that discrimination inflicts on LGBTQ people of color, and the urgent need for public policy that reflects what the research tells us about how we can reduce those harms,” said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, the study’s author.
LGBTQ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be people of color, and Black LGBTQ Americans are disproportionately likely to live in states without protections against discrimination. For example, 42% of LGBT people are people of color compared to 32% of non-LGBT people and the majority of Black LGBT Americans live in the South (51.4%, more than twice the share of any other region), where most states lack anti-discrimination protections.
LGBTQ people of color face higher odds of discrimination than both non-LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ white people. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination (slurs or other verbal abuse) when applying for jobs than white LGBTQ individuals (32% vs. 13%). LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ people to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination when interacting with the police (24% vs. 11%).
Black LGBT Americans are more likely to experience economic insecurity than Black non-LGBT Americans. For example, the majority of Black LGBT people (56%) live in low-income households (below 200% of the federal poverty level) compared to 49% of Black non-LGBT Americans, and Black LGBT adults are also more likely to experience food insecurity than Black non-LGBT adults (37% compared to 27%).
Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of poor mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use, and psychological distress.
LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is linked to discrimination. For example, while 12% of white LGBTQ youth attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous youth, 21% for LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% of LGBTQ Latinx youth.
While supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes for LGBTQ people of color, anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. For example, states with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents between 2014 and 2016 were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress. Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%).
Supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes for LGBTQ people of color.
• Suicide attempts by LGBT youth dropped by 7 percent in states that legalized same-sex marriage.22
• The corollary is that anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. States with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress.23
• Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%). Those with high levels of family support had rates of past-year attempted suicide nearly one third as high as those who lacked such support (22% vs. 8%).24
• Protective measures that have been found to help reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidality among LGBTQ youth include: Establishing inclusive practices and anti-discrimination policies; peer, community, and family support, including dedicated school groups; access to affirmative mental health and social services; societal confrontation of attitudes and norms that exacerbate minority stress; and practitioner training and interventions designed to disrupt negative coping responses and build resilience.
Experiencing discrimination is associated with greater odds of harm to psychological and economic well-being, which is reflected in data on disparities for LGBTQ people of color.
• Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of poor mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use, and psychological distress.
• LGBT people of color have work-place experiences that are more negative than those of white LGBT employees, reporting that their success and work-life balance are fostered less extensively, they have less transparent evaluations, and they are respected less by supervisors.
• Among LGBTQ people surveyed, 51% of Black respondents say discrimination harms their ability to be hired, compared with 33% of white respondents; 41% say it has an impact on their ability to retain employment, compared with 31% of white respondents; 77% of Black respondents report that discrimination impacts their psychological well-being, a rate nearly 50% higher than the total LGBTQ survey population.
• While racial discrimination on its own is not associated with mental health disorders, the combination of racial discrimination with gender and/or sexual orientation discrimination is significantly associated with increased odds of a past-year mental health disorder.
LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is linked to discrimination.
• Around 25% of LGBTQ youth of all races have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts: While 12% of white LGBTQ youth have attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous youth, 21% for LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% for LGBTQ Latinx youth.
• In a 95%-non-white LGBT sample, those who report experiencing anti-LGBT victimization (such as bullying and harassment) are 2.5 times more likely to report a past-year suicide attempt compared to those who do not report victimization.
• Black LGBTQ youth who experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination face twice the rate of past year suicide attempts compared to youth who do not (27% vs. 12%). Black LGBTQ youth who experience race-based discrimination also face higher odds of attempting suicide than those who do not (20% vs. 14%).
• Black LGB adults are over 40% more likely to have made a serious suicide attempt in their lifetime than white LGB adults.
• Latinx and Native American/Pacific Islander LGBT youth are 50% more likely to attempt suicide than white LGBT youth. Latinx LGBT girls are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide than white LGBT youth.
• LGBTQ students who experience discrimination “based on multiple social identities” report more use of deliberate self-harm compared to LGBTQ students who experience racial discrimination alone or who do not experience significant discrimination of any kind.
Reflecting on the study’s findings, key executives from participating LGBTQ Advocacy groups weighed in:
“These painful figures highlight an indisputable link between discrimination, economic security, mental and physical health. People with multiple stigmatized, marginalized social and political identities, particularly Black LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving people, bear a disproportionate amount of the weight illustrated by the data in this study. Statutory equality for LGBTQ+ people nationwide is a necessary foundation to remove the gaps in existing civil rights laws if we are to ever live up to our country’s founding promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all,” said David Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition.
The majority of Black LGBTQ people live in the South, with nearly half (44%) of all Black women couples raising children. Even today, most of these states still do not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and have overtly discriminatory laws on their books. It is no wonder the disparities are so profound and it is a testament to the strength and resilience of our people that they are doing as well as they are. For our community and for our children it’s time for federal action!” said Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.
“This important brief only further solidifies what we have known for a very long time—the combination of racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination has serious and long-lasting effects for the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of color. This research highlights why federal non-discrimination protections are overdue and vital to protecting the most some of the most underrepresented and vulnerable members of our community. Federal anti-discrimination protections are absolutely necessary in protecting and supporting all LGBTQ people, and this is especially true for LGBTQ people of color,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“Study after study shows that nondiscrimination protections improve economic opportunities, public safety, and physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ people. It is well past time for the essential protections available only in some of our states and cities to be extended to all LGBTQ Americans, especially LGBTQ people of color, who are disproportionately burdened by the lack of protections, ” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director, Freedom for All Americans.
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