Did You Know...
Finding safe and effective vaccines to prevent the spread of HIV is our best hope for stopping the AIDS epidemic. To learn more about The Be-The-Generation project and Us Helping Us' involvement through education and training sessions, visit: http://uhupil.org/thefuture
Be The Generation Bridge Project
Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., (UHU) is a partner in the Be The Generation Bridge Project. Given the disproportionate rate of HIV infection among Black gay men, it is imperative for Black gay and Same-Gender-Loving men to be aware of biomedical HIV prevention research, and become involved in clinical trials for biomedical prevention and vaccine research.
A 2010 Washington, DC, study by the Health Department found that 32% of Black gay men aged 30 and over, and 12% of Black gay men younger than 30 years of age, were HIV infected. In comparison, 8% of the white gay men 30 years and older and none of the white gay men under age 30 were HIV-infected. Yet, the Black gay men in the study reported using condom 50% more and having fewer sex partners than white or Latino gay men. The same paradox was reported in a 2011 surveillance study of gay men in Chicago.
Researchers believe that the discrepancy exists because of “sexual ecology”. The higher prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of Black gay men results in their having a greater chance of exposure to HIV even though they may use condoms more often and have fewer sex partners than other gay men. In addition, the higher prevalence of sexual transmitted infections among Black gay men further facilitates HIV transmission in their sexual networks. A strategy to reduce HIV infection among Black gay men must include biomedical strategies such as “treatment as prevention,” PrEP, and a vaccine.
What is the role of Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., in the Be the Generation Bridge Project?
In summary, UHU’s objectives for the project are: a) To provide education/updates and training sessions about biomedical prevention research to its staff, volunteers and/or clients; b) To train “opinion leaders” who will disseminate biomedical prevention research information through conversations with other members of their social networks; c) To sponsor public events that focus on PrEP or treatment as prevention; and d) To train 10 young Black gay men in viral media production to produce and disseminate viral video messages about PrEP, treatment as prevention and clinical trial awareness.
Be The Generation to end the HIV epidemic
The success of biomedical HIV prevention research studies depends on the understanding, trust, support, and participation of the Black gay community. Finding safe and effective methods to prevent the spread of HIV is our best hope for stopping the AIDS epidemic. The HIV/AIDS epidemic cannot be stopped though care and treatment alone. Prevention is essential.
More Be the Generation information:
What is biomedical prevention research?
Biomedical HIV prevention includes a number of things that are medically based and are different than behavioral approaches to HIV prevention. Biomedical HIV prevention approaches that are currently being studied include: HIV vaccines; vaginal and rectal microbicides; the use of anti-HIV drugs (known as anti-retrovirals) for protection before coming into contact with HIV ( pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP); the use of anti-HIV drugs or anti-retrovirals for protection after coming into contact with HIV (post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP); and Prevention with Positives (maintaining undetectable HIV viral loads in persons with HIV as a way to prevent HIV infection in their sexual partner. Other biomedical HIV prevention ideas include: male circumcision, and the treatment and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes. Combinations of methods need to be studied as no single method will likely be 100% effective.
Behavioral HIV prevention includes acquiring new knowledge and behavioral change. Examples of behavioral HIV prevention include safe sex negotiations, regular condom use, limiting the number of sexual partners, etc. The best prevention strategies will be a combination of biomedical and behavioral approaches. All biomedical prevention research includes a behavioral component, where participants receive education and counseling about safe sex, limiting substance use, etc.
What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
• Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention approach that uses anti-HIV drugs on HIV negative individuals as a method to prevent HIV infection.
• When combined with other prevention strategies, PrEP has been shown in studies to reduce HIV infection risk.
Can PrEP be a substitute for condoms and other prevention methods?
• No- PrEP is not a substitute for other essential prevention strategies including condoms.
• PrEP has shown to be effective in some populations when used in combination with regular HIV testing, condoms, and other proven prevention methods.
• PrEP is part of a comprehensive HIV prevention approach, not a cure for HIV. High risk HIV negative men and transwomen who have sex with men may take antiretroviral medication (PrEP) to lower their chances of becoming infected with HIV if they are exposed to it.
Why is an HIV vaccine important?
• A vaccine helps your body learn how to fight infections, such as HIV. An HIV vaccine would help your body protect itself from HIV infection. No major epidemic caused by a virus has been stopped without a vaccine. Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV, and there is still no cure for AIDS.
• Even though there still is no preventive HIV vaccine, each new research discovery helps guide future efforts. In 2009, a vaccine tested in Thailand was able to cut down HIV infections by about one third. This gives us hope that we can one day find a vaccine that works well for everyone.
Why is it taking so long to create an HIV vaccine?
• More than 25 years to develop an HIV vaccine might seem like a long time, but most vaccines we use today took at least 30 years to develop.
• HIV is a tricky virus. It can "hide" from the antibodies that protect the body. Also, there are many different types of HIV, and the virus changes rapidly, even in a single infected person.
For more information about HIV vaccine research and other biomedical HIV prevention strategies, how you can support these efforts, and the ongoing commitment of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), visit their website: Be-The-Generation.