Why I Love the South

By Sha’Terra Johnson, HIV Health Planner

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on August 20 is a chance for the South to join the national movement to raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and advocate for the resources needed to end the HIV epidemic.

As much as I love everything about the South, there are challenges that we face when it comes to healthcare as well as HIV. We have to come together as state to find ways to end the HIV epidemic.

So, how do we come together to end the HIV epidemic in Texas?

We have the Achieving Together Plan. The statewide plan has goals and strategies for us as a state. We have the tools and resources to end HIV in Texas. Take the pledge to be a member—to be an action-oriented individual when it comes to ending HIV in the great state of Texas.

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness is a day set aside for individuals all over the nation to join a movement to raise awareness, erase HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, and to advocate for new and necessary resources and solutions to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in the South. Centers for Disease Control Prevention states that more than 511,400 people are living with HIV (PLWH) in the South. Roughly one-fifth of PLWH in the South are living in Texas. It also shares that 52% of all new diagnoses are in the South, and there were approximately 2,580 deaths related to AIDS complications in the South in 2017. People living with HIV in the South are faced with stigma and discrimination that often results in lack of access to high-quality health care and essential support services. It is important we join together to develop solutions to reduce disparities and stigma of PLWH and combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic occurring in the South.

One Provider’s Perspective on Transgender Healthcare

In 2015, Parkland Health & Hospital System opened a clinic to meet the growing need for comprehensive and affirming medical care for the transgender community. In five years, the Parkland Transgender Health Clinic has grown to serve more than 500 patients. The clinic currently operates one day a week in three locations. They provide behavioral health care, primary health care, and hormonal treatments.

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This is Our Outcry

By Ian L. Haddock, Executive Director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative

For a long time, I found it as hard to say I was Christian in LGBTQIA+ spaces as I did to say I was Gay in Christian spaces. Two different kinds of fear, but all sparking from the same trauma. When you are considered “othered” there is a fear of further “other-ing” yourself while trying to control your narrative and be uniquely you. So, for me, being a Gay Christian was a double-edged anomaly amongst my peers.

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I Live in a Time of Hope

By Steven Vargas, Achieving Together Partner

I never told my mother of my own HIV-positive status. Several months after I found out about myself having HIV she would pass away. I would begin my downward spiral into depression, isolation, and drug use. I was disappointed in myself for becoming a statistic—another young gay man with HIV who would likely follow in the steps of other gay men with HIV to an early grave. We did not know any different in the days prior to 1996, the year antiretrovirals were introduced. If you had HIV, you were most likely dead within the next couple of decades at the longest. It was what I witnessed for years helping my mother and her friends.

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I’m Breaking Up with Fear

By Elias Diaz, Achieving Together Partner

I met Fear when I was just 16 years old. I was in a relationship with an older guy, and my friends called me to tell me to be careful with him. They had found out his previous partner had died of AIDS and they were concerned for my well-being. That was the first time I felt afraid of a partner, but it was definitely not the last.

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