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Reaching Gay Men Using the Internet

NASTAD, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors

Earlier this week, I attended a technical assistance meeting sponsored by the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors Exit Disclaimer (NASTAD) and the National Coalition of STD Directors Exit Disclaimer (NCSD) about reaching gay men using the Internet. Engaging in a dialogue on how gay men are using the Internet and its impact on HIV transmission, testing and care is something that, as the Director of AIDS.gov, is a top priority and a topic that we'll be exploring more in the weeks to come.

We laud the efforts of NASTAD and CDC for their leadership and thank Dave Kern and Stephen Adelson from NASTAD for inviting us to participate in this meeting. We also appreciate Rachel Kachur's efforts in developing the National Guidelines for Internet-based STD and HIV Prevention Exit Disclaimer (PDF, 46 KB). And speaking of STDs, April is National STD Awareness Month – check out the GYT: “Get Yourself Tested” Exit Disclaimer campaign to increase STD testing among young people.

Comments

  1. I am excited that Miguel highlighted NASTAD and NCSD’s recent technical assistance (TA) meeting focused on reaching gay men using the internet. I’m even more excited about the opportunities that new media and technology provide us in shifting the paradigm for HIV, STD and viral hepatitis prevention efforts. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Miguel and AIDS.gov’s efforts to infuse new technology into prevention programs. Miguel’s presentation during the TA meeting and his encouragement and guidance for us at NASTAD as we move in the direction of utilizing new technologies is inspiring. NASTAD is committed to helping health departments and the communities within which they work implement new media programs and technologies that will lead to a decrease in new HIV, STD and viral hepatitis infections and ultimately improve public health.

  2. For gay men, the demands of the AIDS epidemic are enormous and unrelenting. Regardless of HIV status, all are called on to maintain vigilant safety with sex, to face down a cultural stigma greater even than homophobia, and to somehow find a way to go forward in a world heavy with loss. As exhaustion and grief threaten to overwhelm the activism and optimism of earlier years, and with new infections on the rise among young gay men, the challenge of finding meaning in a world turned upside down is more than an idle philosophical exercise. It is a matter of psychological and perhaps even physical survival.

  3. The internet is crucial for AIDS sufferers so that real information can be shared and hopefully only slightly filtered. In the addiction rehabilitation industry i encounter many people who are seeking to rehabilitate themselves from addiction and whom have contracted aids behind their drug and/or alcohol use. They =, like millions need the internet resources available and more to get as much variety of opinion as possible. Thanks for the article.

  4. Do whatever is necessary! If they can be reached via the internet, more power to those reaching them with this vital knowledge.

  5. Craigslist is likely the best bet. In London, HIV-positive gay men appear to meet casual UAI partners of the same status through the Internet. This presents a risk for STI transmission. However, gay men were no more likely to meet casual UAI partners of unknown or discordant HIV status – which presents a risk for HIV transmission – online rather than offline.

  6. Thanks for reporting on the meeting Miguel. ISIS, Inc. was invited by one of our health department partners to attend this meeting, as we have been involved in using the Internet to reach gay men for the past 8 years. Beginning with the first chat room outreach in 2001, through banner ads and a moderated safer sex forum on Craigslist, we have tested and evaluated many of the methods discussed at this meeting. (See articles in AIDSCare, STD, PLoS Medicine, SRSP, etc.). We have been providing technical assistance and training in Internet methodologies all over the country – starting in CA, and including Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, and many other states. We look forward to continuing our innovative HIV/STD prevention and sexual health work into the future.
    Best, Deb

  7. While I certainly respect the work being done, the simple fact is that until Gay men are not made to feel as if they are evil by nature, and that their very existence in this world is wrong, there will really be no signifiganct impact in this fight.
    Some Gay men who have little or no self-esteem participate in this kind of risky sexual behavior because they have been TAUGHT to place LITTLE or NO value on their very own lives. And they have been taught this by the very people that created them. After a lifetime of having that hammered into your head, even the strongest of us can start to believe the Heterosexual rhetoric on this issue. In fact, if you asked most boys if they would rather be considered a murderer or a rapist or a Gay man… Any guesses??? The way Heteroseuxals raise little children to believe that being Gay is the worst thing in the world that you could possibly be, is it any wonder we find ourselves here? This is not said to blame, but to ackowledge that it is not only the Gay male community who is responsible for this.
    HIV will not see a permanent decrease amongst Gay men until the very people that created them STOP trying to destroy them by encouraging them to destroy themselves.
    This seems very unlikely to happen given the animosity and disprepect afforded to Gay men every single day in this world.
    And since Heterosexuals outnumber Gays by a margin of about 95 to 5, I can only imagine that this is playing out exactly as the 95% would like it to.

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