Fighting H.I.V. In Community
In my opinion, seeing a physician and getting tested regularly for men of color who have sex with men (MSM) is a large reason H.I.V. still tends to be high among our population. A lot of times, the “out of sight, out of mind” approach is what causes a lot of people to have risky sexual behaviors.
HIV, stigma, and barriers for men of color
There is also the stigma and shame associated with having same sexual relationships. And it causes many men to not be 100 percent honest with our partners. The advent of PrEP has given some element of control back to the individual looking to prevent contracting H.I.V. But to even engage in this, you need to be connected with a regular physician and get tested every three months to get a refill. This process can be frustrating and time-consuming. Frankly keeping up with it can be impossible for many low-income men of color.
Change the infrastructure to address barriers
How can we make the infrastructure of care different for these men? How can we create PrEP clinics that provide adjacent services that they may need? Like counseling, child care, laundry service, financial advice or just a place to hang. Communities of care for H.I.V. patients should be active networks that pair providing health care along with the needs of the whole individual. Creating a real community, not just a site for providing a service.
Making care a regular part of life
H.I.V. is an everyday part of the life of queer or MSM identifying people, so why should care not be integrated into a regular part of life? Knowing your physician, nurses, and social workers make a huge difference in trust-building. And in H.I.V. prevention, communal trust should be our goal as patients and health providers.
The importance of the whole individual approach
To take care of the whole individual is a radical approach to healthcare that I believe could really change things for rates of H.I.V. infection. When we are in community with health professionals, their advice is coming from a more informed place about the patient because they’ll know more than just what is on a medical chart. At any point in the person's journey, no matter their status, they should feel a human approach to how we handle this disease and how we can focus on managing our status with health information and real-life advice.
Could you help me brainstorm what a good community of care would look like for the H-I-V.net community?
Do you live in the Southern US?