Friday
October 20, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 42
 
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Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018

 

 



 
Conference on HIV/STD prevention held
Conference on HIV/STD prevention held
Advocates for Gay men's health from across the country the U.S. where in attendance

by Sharon Bogan - Special to the SGN

How can we build upon community strengths to effectively address HIV/STD among gay men in King County? An energized group of gay men, HIV/STD prevention providers and community advocates came together on October 5th and 6th to address this question. Sponsored by Public Health - Seattle & King County, this conference, entitled Envisioning our Future: A New Look at Gay and Bi Men's Sexual Health, focused on HIV & STD prevention targeting gay and Bisexual men.

This most recent event for gay/bi men, the fourth Public Health-sponsored conference on this issue since 2000, was sparked by continually rising rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia among gay and Bisexual men in King County, and an on-going estimated 250 new cases of HIV diagnosed annually in gay and Bisexual men. Despite the hard realities of infection rates in men who have sex with men (MSM) in King County, the joint community/Public Health conference planning committee chose to focus the conference on harnessing individual and community strengths and moving towards a more sexually healthy community.

Among the conference activities that sparked discussion was a provocative panel discussion that brought together national and local HIV/STD experts to share their perspectives on working towards a sexually healthier community.

"It was great to see national speakers share their diverse perspectives with the community. People were receptive to hearing these different views because they understand the complexity of this topic."

The speakers presented a variety of approaches to gay community health. While George Ayala, Psy.D. (AIDS Project Los Angeles) and Christopher Bartlett (Community Organizer, Philadelphia) emphasized addressing the social structures of gay men, and the importance of community leadership, Gabriel Rotello (author of "Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men", Los Angeles) was troubled that MSM were not outraged at the rates of HIV and other STD in the gay community. Mathew Golden MD MPH (STD Program Director, for Public Health - Seattle & King County), and Steven Wakefield (HIV Vaccine Trials Network) also provided insight and perspective on the local issues related to HIV/STD.

Unlike past HIV/STD Conferences that emphasized quantitative data, this Conference encouraged participants to share their personal stories as a means to further understand the complexity of issues that gay men experience.

"Sexual health for me is based on honesty. I am honest with myself about my sexual needs including sex with my partner, occasional sex with other people, and of course sex with myself." -- Anonymous

"Being an HIV+ gay man and a recovering meth addict, sexual health [for me] is paying attention to my emotional health and physical health needs. Intimacy is much more important to me now. I communicate more effectively now in regards to my desires and potential relationships." -- Anonymous

Participants ended the Friday Conference in workshops developing action steps which will help inform the future direction of HIV/STD prevention in King County. The workshop topics included: MSM Youth, MSM of Color, New Prevention Approaches, Setting Healthier Norms, Social Structures that Influence Risk, and Community Leadership. Recommendations from the workshops included continuing to foster new leaders, creating coalitions to address issues of Queer youth and men of color, as well as new media campaigns to highlight counseling and testing.

The Public Health - Seattle & King County HIV/AIDS Program plans to work with its community planning group to generate a complete report summarizing key conference outcomes. When completed, the report will be posted at www.metorkc.gov/health/apu.

Sharon Bogan is an Educator Consultant/ Event Planner for the HIV/AIDS Program of Public Health Seattle & King County.
Preview- Get 'Jinxed' at Circus Contraption's Halloween Blowout Extravaganza Spectacular
By E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN Arts & Entertainment Writer

Circus Contraption will present a Halloween Extravaganza sure to be exciting and fun, featuring the thirty five piece Portland based marching band "March Fourth", twelve member Balkan-style brass band "Orkestar Zirkonium", the Circus Contraption Band, and all sorts of contortionists, acrobats, vaudevillians, martial artists, shadow puppets and the largest army of dancing Zombies ever assembled to re-create Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance!! (If you'd like to participate in the zombie dance e-mail thrillerdance@hotmail.com for details!)

Circus Contraption has just returned to Seattle from a highly successful two month performance run in New York City.

Get Zombied at the Halloween Extravaganza on October 27th at the Showbox, 1426 1st Ave., Seattle. Doors open at 8:00pm, 21 and over. For more information and tickets visit: www.circuscontraption.com

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