If the San Francisco Department of Public Health has officially and unequivocally saluted gay men in the past twenty-years for controlling the HIV plague, I didn't get the memo. Never mind the memo: where's the social marketing campaign not only praising gays for making AIDS a chronic, manageable disease for the vast majority of people living with HIV, but encouraging us to maintain healthy sexual behaviors?
I've seen this scenario too often, in which there is ample scientific evidence new HIV transmissions and infections are being averted and poz folks are living longer live, but DPH is simply incapable of saying a damn positive word or two about it. Such evidence is a mere footnote to continuing the sex-negative, stigmatizing programs.
Susan Philip, the director of STD prevention programs for the DPH, will present her "Responding to Increasing STDs in San Francisco" slide show tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19, at the health commission meeting at 101 Grove Street, starting at 4 pm.
The downward sloping red line of new HIV diagnoses should be a key element to a sex- and gay-positive social marketing campaign patting gays on the back and promoting sexual liaisons that are healthy and reducing HIV rates. Persuading DPH to finally underwrite such a campaign is as likely as Mayor Ed Lee failing to win reelection this November. Ain't gonna happen.
Too much institutional resources and many DPH staff and researchers are invested in always finding the negative downside, and to the healthcare workers there always are such things, about gay men and sexual activity and infections,
While DPH has long equated STD stats with HIV infections, their own evidence presented in the first slide showing a clear decline of HIV rates and this one with corresponding years presenting the gonorrhea rate for all persons as steady or stable. DPH is wrong to state STD rates equal HIV infections, but since their agenda is constant alarmism about all sexually transmitted infections much manipulation and cherry-picking of data is necessary for the DPH researchers.
A perfect example of the "there's never good news about gay men, sex, HIV and STDs" approach and propaganda of DPH. Sure, let's acknowledge that the condom code continues to not be part of HIV prevention for gays, but we also need the DPH to admit use of Truvada as a PrEP strategy is not only rising but it's at the same time as a steady reduction of HIV diagnoses. Nothing in the slides about those facts.
As a gay man living with AIDS who has survived and thrived through the plague years, and devoted much of adult life to stopping HIV and improving the wellness of gay men and engaged in activism that greatly expanded the budgets of government health agencies and nonprofit service organizations, I must again demand that these institutions with SF DPH in the lead must began putting out the praise and positive strokes toward the gay male community.
I'll say as much at the health commission on Tuesday.