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GMHC opens Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic

New York-based AIDS agency hopes to ‘wipe out’ virus

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Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Daniel Schwen; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK — A new mental health clinic is open in Manhattan with the goal of serving New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS, Spectrum News NY 1 reports.

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis has been active in the city since the early days of the AIDS epidemic, but only recently has it been licensed by the state to provide outpatient mental health services.

The new Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic in Chelsea is designed for 24-hour emergency support. With a goal of wiping out AIDS in New York State by 2020, the organization says mental health support is critical, Spectrum News reports.

“We know that untreated mental health issues is a driver of the epidemic. Because mental health issues can lead someone to not stick to their medication regimen, or prevent someone from taking their prevention drugs,” said GMHC Ceo Kelsey Louie, according to Spectrum News.

GMHC offers services to adult New Yorkers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, income levels, and HIV statuses. To learn more, check out gmhc.org.

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CDC issues warning on new “deadlier strain” of Mpox

Escalating epidemic in Congo poses global threat, according to WHO

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JYNNEOS Mpox vaccine (Photo courtesy of the CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a health advisory regarding a deadlier strain of the Mpox virus outbreak which is currently impacting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the CDC, since January of 2023, DRC has reported more than 19,000 suspect mpox cases and more than 900 deaths. The CDC stated that the overall risk to the United States posed by the clade I mpox outbreak is low.

The risk to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who have more than one sexual partner and people who have sex with MSM, regardless of gender, is assessed as low to moderate the agency stated.

While no cases of that subtype have been identified outside sub-Saharan Africa so far, the World Health Organization said earlier this week that the escalating epidemic in Congo nevertheless poses a global threat, just as infections in Nigeria set off the 2022 outbreak according to a WHO spokesperson.

The spokesperson also noted that as LGBTQ+ Pride month and events happen globally, there is more need for greater caution and people to take steps at prevention including being vaccinated.

The CDC advises that while there are no changes to the overall risk assessment, people in the United States who have already had Mpox or are fully vaccinated should be protected against the type of Mpox spreading in DRC. Casual contact, such as might occur during travel, is not likely to cause the disease to spread. The best protection against Mpox is two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine.

The CDC also noted the risk might change as more information becomes available, or if cases appear outside DRC or other African countries where clade I exists naturally.

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Journalists are not the enemy

Wednesday marks five years since Blade reporter detained in Cuba

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The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on April 4, 2024. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his government over the last decade has cracked down on the country's independent media. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Wednesday marked five years since the Cuban government detained me at Havana’s José Marti International Airport.

I had tried to enter the country in order to continue the Washington Blade’s coverage of LGBTQ and intersex Cubans. I found myself instead unable to leave the customs hall until an airport employee escorted me onto an American Airlines flight back to Miami.

This unfortunate encounter with the Cuban regime made national news. The State Department also noted it in its 2020 human rights report.

Press freedom and a journalist’s ability to do their job without persecution have always been important to me. They became even more personal to me on May 8, 2019, when the Cuban government for whatever reason decided not to allow me into the country.  

Washington Blade International News Editor Michael K. Lavers after the Cuban government detained him at Havana’s José Marti International Airport on May 8, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

‘A free press matters now more than ever’

Journalists in the U.S. and around the world on May 3 marked World Press Freedom Day.

Reporters without Borders in its 2024 World Press Freedom Index notes that in Cuba “arrests, arbitrary detentions, threats of imprisonment, persecution and harassment, illegal raids on homes, confiscation, and destruction of equipment — all this awaits journalists who do not toe the Cuban Communist Party line.” 

“The authorities also control foreign journalists’ coverage by granting accreditation selectively, and by expelling those considered ‘too negative’ about the government,” adds Reporters without Borders.

Cuba is certainly not the only country in which journalists face persecution or even death while doing their jobs.

• Reporters without Borders notes “more than 100 Palestinian reporters have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces, including at least 22 in the course of their work” in the Gaza Strip since Hamas launched its surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Media groups have also criticized the Israeli government’s decision earlier this month to close Al Jazeera’s offices in the country.

• Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, Washington Post contributor and Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva remain in Russian custody. Austin Tice, a freelance journalist who contributes to the Post, was kidnapped in Syria in August 2012.

• Reporters without Borders indicates nearly 150 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000, and 28 others have disappeared.

The Nahal Oz border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Nov. 21, 2016. Reporters without Borders notes the Israel Defense Forces have killed more than 100 Palestinian reporters in the enclave since Hamas launched its surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his World Press Freedom Day notes more journalists were killed in 2023 “than in any year in recent memory.”

“Authoritarian governments and non-state actors continue to use disinformation and propaganda to undermine social discourse and impede journalists’ efforts to inform the public, hold governments accountable, and bring the truth to light,” he said. “Governments that fear truthful reporting have proved willing to target individual journalists, including through the misuse of commercial spyware and other surveillance technologies.”

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, who is a former journalist, in her World Press Freedom Day statement noted journalists “are more essential than ever to safeguarding democratic values.” 

“From those employed by international media organizations to those working for local newspapers, courageous journalists all over the world help shine a light on corruption, encourage civic engagement, and hold governments accountable,” she said.

President Joe Biden echoed these points when he spoke at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner here in D.C. on April. 27.

“There are some who call you the ‘enemy of the people,'” he said. “That’s wrong, and it’s dangerous. You literally risk your lives doing your job.”

I wrote in last year’s World Press Freedom Day op-ed that the “rhetoric — ‘fake news’ and journalists are the ‘enemy of the people’ — that the previous president and his followers continue to use in order to advance an agenda based on transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, islamophobia, and white supremacy has placed American journalists at increased risk.” I also wrote the “current reality in which we media professionals are working should not be the case in a country that has enshrined a free press in its constitution.”

“A free press matters now more than ever,” I concluded.

That sentiment is even more important today.

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Health

MISTR announces it’s now prescribing DoxyPE

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MISTR, the telemedicine provider that offers free online PrEP and long-term HIV care in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, announced it is now prescribing Doxycycline Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (DoxyPEP), an antibiotic that reduces bacterial STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Patients can now use MISTR’s telehealth platform to receive DoxyPEP online for free, according to a release from the company.

With this launch, MISTR plans to offer patients access to post-exposure care, in addition to its existing preventive and long-term HIV treatment options, which include PrEP and antiretroviral therapy (ART). This comes at a time when the rate of STIs continue to rise. In 2022, more than 2.5 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were reported in the U.S; of that population, gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected, the company reported.

“Despite an ongoing STI epidemic affecting the LGBTQ+ community, there are few resources available for this underserved, vulnerable community to get the preventative medication they need,” said Tristan Schukraft, CEO and founder of MISTR. “I’m proud that MISTR is democratizing access to PrEP, HIV care, and now DoxyPEP.”

An NIH-funded study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2023 found that doxycycline as post-exposure prophylaxis, now known as DoxyPEP, reduced syphilis by 87%, chlamydia by 88%, and gonorrhea by 55% in individuals taking HIV PrEP, and reduced syphilis by 77%, chlamydia by 74% and gonorrhea by 57% in people living with HIV. 

MISTR is a telemedicine platform offering free online access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and long-term HIV care Visit mistr.com for more information.

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