On September 27, NAPWA will launch the first National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD). NGMHAAD is a new idea designed to refocus attention on a community that has long been affected by the HIV epidemic here in the United States and abroad. It is a call to action that comes at time of heightened complacency about HIV among gay men. Yet the nation faces a resurgence of new HIV infections among gay men. Throughout the year, community based organizations (CBOs), health departments, faith based organizations, corporations, labor organizations, elected officials and other individual and collective stakeholders participate in national HIV/AIDS Awareness Days. These days raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and often focus attention on communities or groups that are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic. The National Association for People Living with AIDS (NAPWA) is proud to be the originator of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) which encourages HIV testing and AIDS awareness in communities across the country. This year, NHTD garnered support from celebrities, seventy-nine Mayors, members of Congress, major media outlets, and literally thousands of community and government organizations who helped get the word out that people need to take the HIV test and take control of their health. NGMHAAD will build upon NHTD's success by using methods already proven to be effective in increasing HIV testing and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
A TIME FOR ACTION
The fact is that the HIV epidemic is far from over for gay men. Consider that:
- Fifty-three percent of new HIV infections occurred among men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) across all racial and ethnic groups were the only transmission category with significant increases in HIV diagnoses
- HIV incidence has been increasing steadily among gay and bisexual men since the early 1990s, consistent with increases in risk behavior, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and HIV diagnoses among MSM
- Gay men comprise over half of the total number of total HIV/AIDS cases in the United States
- More than 500,000 gay men of all colors have died in the United States.
Despite these numbers, gay men are only tangentially represented in national AIDS Awareness Day. An awareness day devoted solely to gay, bisexual, same gender loving and transgendered gay men fills a glaring gap in national HIV/AIDS consciousness raising efforts.
NGMAHAD's goals are to 1) raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among gay men, 2) encourage HIV testing, early diagnosis and linkage to care, 3) promote better understanding of the complex factors that drive HIV transmission among gay men, and 4) obtain broad based support to acquire needed public and private resources and sound governmental policies to prevent new infections among gay men and to provide treatment for gay men living with HIV/AIDS. We simply seek to announce the initiative and begin to garner interest in and generate support the concept. Over the course of the next year, NAPWA will establish a national steering committee to plan for an expanded activities and broad based national participation.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
There are a number of ways for you to participate in the September 27, launch and first annual observance of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Advisory Day. These include:
- Officially endorse NGMHAAD
- Issue media advisories
- Host local HIV testing and educational events targeting gay men
Visit the NAPWA web-site at www.napwa.org. You can sign-up an official sponsor of National Gay Men's Awareness Day here. We will also post sample media advisories, press releases, talking points and other materials to support any activities you undertake on that day.