Celebrating how far both communities have come while fighting to educate and advocate for equality and access.
In June, we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Ally, and anyone who is not included) community with Pride Month.
As a network of PA-state allies, Take Control HIV celebrates equality and advocacy every day of the year but appreciates the spotlight Pride Month brings.
The original organizers chose June as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 – a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States.
According to the Library of Congress, the first Pride demonstration was held in New York City in 1970 for Gay Pride Week (June 22 – 28). Since then, it has grown with cities, states and countries establishing their own Pride traditions.
HIV and Pride
HIV has been linked with gay men’s health since the early 1980s when officials initially termed what would later become known as AIDS, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID).
While gay, bisexual and other men are disproportionately affected by HIV, we know HIV stigma, homophobia and discrimination influence health outcomes.
The LGBTQIA+ community, like the HIV community, has worked tirelessly for decades to educate and advocate to decrease stigma while improving the quality of life for everyone.
Equal access to care
There are still barriers to overcome. Discrimination makes the LGBTQIA+ community more vulnerable to HIV as this community often faces:
- Lack of healthcare insurance
- Lack of protections regarding job loss
- Lack of resources for gay and bisexual youth exploring their sexuality
- Lack of access to education about sexuality
- Lack of education on safe sex practices (protection, condoms, STD/STI testing)
- Fear of homophobia and bias
For Pennsylvanians, the private health insurance non-discrimination law is incomplete – meaning LGBTQ people are not protected from being unfairly denied health insurance coverage or excluded from coverage for certain healthcare procedures based on sexual orientation. Pennsylvania does protect people based on gender identity.
Overall, the healthcare laws and policies in Pennsylvania are considered “fair” compared to the rest of the country for the LGBTQIA+ community.
To see the nation’s rankings by state, click here.
Ending HIV for all communities
Take Control HIV wants ALL Pennsylvanians to know their HIV status and pursue treatment if living an HIV-positive life.
To increase access to care, Take Control HIV is knocking down the barriers to healthcare.
- Lack of healthcare insurance – Even without insurance, there are ways to access HIV testing and treatment.
- Lack of protections regarding job loss – We can connect you to housing opportunities, transportation, and food assistance.
- Lack of resources for gay and bisexual youth exploring their sexuality – Blogs for every person of every age.
- Lack of access to education about sexuality – There are support groups near you.
- Lack of education on safe sex practices (protection, condoms, STD/STI testing) – Read more on your sex and HIV risk.
- Fear of homophobia and bias – Educate so you can advocate.
Take Control HIV and its partner network will be present at Pride events throughout the summer.
In June, HIV testing will be provided by Family First Health’s Caring Together program at the following events:
- York County Pride – June 11: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cousler Park
1060 Church Road, York 17404
- Hanover Pride Fest – June 25: noon to 8 p.m. at Moul Field
153 Moul Ave, Hanover 17331
- National HIV Testing Day – June 27: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Family First Health
116 South George Street, York 17401
It is recommended everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once. If you are a man who has had sex with another man or a person who has had sex with more than one partner since your last HIV test, get tested as soon as possible.
To find a testing site near you, click here.
On July 30, the Take Control HIV community will be at the Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania. This is the 30th anniversary for the event, which will be held at Emergency Responders Plaza in Harrisburg. HIV testing will be provided by GLO from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and our team will have resources to connect to care.