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GLAAD RELEASES FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV; MAKES COMPREHENSIVE RECOMMENDATIONS TO HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS TO MAKE UP FOR “LOST YEAR” IN TESTING, PREVENTION, AND CARE
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
(New York, NY – October 6, 2022) – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is releasing new research that is the first to analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ongoing epidemic of HIV, and as the monkeypox virus (MPV) emerges as a new threat to public health, particularly for gay, bi and queer men of color.
The report, “Invisible People: A Retrospective Report on the Intersections of Covid-19 and HIV in the United States,” includes analysis of academic studies examining COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable communities like people living with HIV, and the fight against HIV overall.
- Data showing up to a 97% drop in HIV testing in some parts of the country during the pandemic shutdown
- A 72% drop in new PrEP initiations in a community-based organization in Boston, MA. PrEP is 99% effective at preventing HIV
- Additional research showing new HIV diagnoses in cities where rates had been falling – a fallout from what the CDC calls a “lost year” in testing during the pandemic
- The surge of public health information about COVID-19 overshadowed HIV messages about prevention, testing and treatment
- Interviewees for the GLAAD study report feeling “invisible” as the world’s attention, conversation, resources and health infrastructure were consumed by COVID-19
- Striking parallels from HIV to COVID-19 to the 2022 monkeypox virus outbreak in the U.S.: disproportionately affecting LGBTQ men, queer people of color, and people living with HIV; heavily impacting the U.S. South and people historically marginalized due to racial and social inequities, stigma and who are at increased vulnerability in a public health emergency
GLAAD’s report incorporates interviews with frontline HIV advocates and people living with HIV about the challenges they faced and innovations they created to expand access to testing, treatment and care during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis:
“This research offers a clear path forward: media must uplift stories of people living with HIV, who need to be seen and heard in the healthcare system and the world at large, for HIV to be understood as preventable, treatable and untransmittable. Communities, industries and government must continue to innovate together to create and implement solutions, to better prepare for all challenges to health and safety.”
Statement from Andres Cantero, Jr./Study Participant:
“For the first time, stories and voices like mine are being heard about the challenges of living with HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s painful and scary to feel invisible as new threats to public health overwhelm resources and attention. We have to learn from the lessons of each epidemic to be better prepared for the next. People living with HIV, like all chronic conditions, should know that we can count on care that keeps us alive and helps prevent the spread of HIV. Public health officials should continue to listen to clients and community-based advocates to ensure resources and quickly confront any health threat so we can live full and healthy lives.”
Community-based organizations (CBOs) provide recommendations and innovations to meet the needs of vulnerable populations that can be applied to emerging health threats like MPV.
- Additional and unrestricted funding to advocates and CBOs to better respond to changing needs of clients in a global health crisis, especially in communities where stigma blocks accurate information on risk and prevention
- Leverage lessons learned to innovate and advocate for consistency of care
- Adopt a differentiated and person-centered service approach, offering a variety of services in one location that clients trust
- Public health messages should include COVID-19 vaccination and PrEP for HIV prevention to maximize reach and impact
- Clear and simple messaging needed for future vaccine rollouts, and include the diversity of the community in message delivery
GLAAD was founded in 1985 to monitor media to ensure accurate and respectful reporting about people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. 41 years after the first cases were identified, stigma about HIV and misinformation about the virus continue to drive new infections, despite the fact that medical and scientific breakthroughs have made HIV almost completely preventable with PrEP medication against contracting the virus, and advances in treatment for those living with HIV mean that when effectively treated, HIV can be suppressed to the point of being undetectable and therefore, untransmittable, U=U.
Gilead Sciences provided grant support for GLAAD’s report.
About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis, cancer and inflammation. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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