In order to lower Louisiana's rate of new HIV infections, DeAnn Gruber, STD/HIV program director with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, joined researchers from Emory University to share new information that analyzes the rates of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) both nationwide and in Louisiana.
Addressing the disproportionate burden of HIV among MSM, who account for approximately two-thirds of all new diagnoses each year, has long been a public health priority. Dr. Gruber said the studies done by the Emory researchers provide an innovative new method for gauging the impact of the HIV epidemic among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
In 2012, Louisiana identified gay and bisexual men as the state plan's top priority group for the allocation of prevention and services resources.
"These findings highlight the challenges in Louisiana, but the Program is taking a multifaceted approach to prevent HIV, particularly among gay and bisexual men." Gruber said.
Gruber added that Louisiana has focused on four key strategies to reduce the HIV burden among gay and bisexual men.
- Reduce the number of people who are living with HIV but are unaware of their infection by increasing the resources available for HIV testing in healthcare settings, including emergency rooms, community health clinics and correctional settings.
- Expand biomedical and other interventions to reduce the per exposure HIV transmission probability for gay and bisexual men.
- Address the barriers that gay and bisexual men experience at individual, community and structural levels, such as stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to medical care.
- Increase the cultural humility of the prevention and care workforce to better serve gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
Dr. Gruber added that the research of the Emory team provides scientifically rigorous and reliable estimates of population sizes and HIV burden among MSM at both the state and metro area levels (including New Orleans and Baton Rouge), which will be very useful for the continued prioritization of gay and bisexual men for prevention and care services in Louisiana.
"The STD/HIV Program will be able to update its own estimates utilizing the methods outlined in this article, which will be very helpful to allocate resources and evaluate the success and impact of our efforts to reduce HIV inequities among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men," she added.
Replay and Transcript:
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