New Jersey — This week (March 21-25th) the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health and its partners are raising awareness of the important healthcare needs and challenges faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) individuals and communities. Barriers to medical care such as stigma, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination negatively affect the physical, emotional and mental health of LGBTQ+ community members.
This year’s theme LIVE OUT LOUD for LGBTQ Health is an opportunity for advocates and community members, as well as state and federal officials to talk openly about the importance of adequate and accessible healthcare services for LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.
The LGBTQ+ community experiences significantly greater challenges in achieving good health compared to straight and cisgender community members. Inequities in medical care prevent individuals from accessing and receiving appropriate, patient-centered health and support services in a safe and inclusive environment.
By not getting the care they need, community members experience worse health outcomes in areas such as substance abuse, addiction, mental health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and AIDS.
HIV, AIDS and other STIs have a significant impact on LGBGTQ+ individuals and communities. It’s important to include testing for HIV and other STIs as part of a person’s yearly health appointments. Anyone at higher risk for HIV and other STIs should be tested more frequently. Many people living with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections experience no signs or symptoms. Getting tested is the only way to know if you have HIV or other STIs.
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Testing not only reduces the risk of spreading new infections, but also links people to prevention, medical care and treatment services. Anyone at high risk for HIV should get tested often and talk to their healthcare provider about available prevention options.
Over the past 10 years, “life-changing” advancements in HIV testing, prevention, medical care, and treatment have improved health outcomes— longer, healthier lives for people with HIV, and effective prevention options for those who do not have HIV. Better options mean less new HIV infections, less people with AIDS, and less AIDS-related deaths.
Effective prevention options help end HIV in all communities. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily HIV medicine taken to help prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a HIV medicine taken only in emergency situations. If you think you were recently exposed (in the last 72 hours) to HIV, immediately contact your healthcare provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about taking PEP to help prevent getting HIV.
While there is still no cure for HIV, early testing and treatment options make it possible to live healthy with HIV. Treatment with HIV medicine (antiretroviral therapy) can keep the amount of virus in the body to an undetectable level. Keeping an undetectable HIV level prevents passing the virus to others (Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U). All people living with HIV should start treatment regardless of how healthy they are or how long they have been living with HIV. Live Out Loud. Support LGBTQ+ Health.
New Jersey offers free HIV and other STI services to all state residents via the hotline. Knowing who to call for resources and information is the first step in ending the HIV epidemic in New Jersey. The hotline is staffed by health professionals (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide free, confidential help: Call: 1-800-624-2377 or Chat Here
• Referrals for testing, prevention, treatment and other related services
• Prevention and treatment information for HIV, hepatitis and other STIs
• Information on the side effects of medicines used to treat HIV and other STIs
• Referrals to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) services
• Counseling and treatment locations
• Referrals to harm reduction centers (syringe access available)
• Partner notification services
• New Jersey’s AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP)
Connect with NJ AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline (clickable)
Observance Day hashtags: #LGBTQHealth #LiveOutLoud