27 Sep 2012

Health: HIV/AIDS Awareness Days

Category: Health

Today, September 27th is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) in the United States.

The lead organizer for this day is the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). The day was ‘founded’ in 2008 to help raise gay men’s awareness of the HIV epidemic and the role gay men can play in ending it.

I would like to be able to say that this day and all the days devoted to HIV/AIDS awareness are efforts that make a difference, but I can’t make that claim with any certainty.

In researching NAPWA and this day I went to the NAPWA website with the expectation that I would find a good amount of information on the events of the day. I found was a message from the originations president saying: “September 27 is coming soon, hard on the heels of AIDS 2012 in Washington, D.C.: the fifth annual National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! Click HERE to see what we did last year. And watch this page over coming weeks for this year’s observances.”

I also found the Positive Voice Newsletter (September 10, 2012) which featured a very brief article on the day.

Eventually I did to find a link to the 2012 schedule of events which include a Pray breakfast on the 22nd, a Press Conference on the 27th, and then a NGMHAAD conference in DC on Friday the 28th.

Don’t get it twisted, it is not my intention to abuse NAPWA or promote the end to NGMHAAD.  On this day dedicated Gay men and HIV/AIDS awareness I am simply wondering about HIV/AIDS Awareness days in general, and I am curious to know what the results of these days are.

What happens when time, effort, and money are spent in the name of HIV/AIDS prevention, education and HIV/AIDS related services on awareness days and what about today? Does this awareness day really benefit all gay men, or is today and are all these days created to be little more than funding streams for agencies? What real impact do they have?

In regards to NGMHAAD, we can review a list of the events from last year, but there is no indication of how HIV/AIDS was impacted or how Gay Men benefited from the effort last year. How many received free tests? How much money was raised at the fundraiser and where has it gone? Who attended the conference and how did it help? But reports that contain no measurable data on outcomes and show no real impact on infection rates are  status quo for public health. Most reports rarely justify an expense through data that shows impact and outcomes related HIV/AIDS.

Did you know that today is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day  and that there are 11 HIV/AIDS Awareness days in the US? National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7), National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10), National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 20), HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (May 18), National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (May 19), Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness day (June 8), National HIV Testing Day (June 27), National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (September 18), National Gay Men’s Awareness Day (September 27), National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (October 15), World AIDS Day (December 1).

I am not sure what to make of all these days. They makes me wonder why. Why so many individual days, why must there be a day for each group? After all, it  is one Virus that affects us all.

I wonder what would impact could be had if all these days were merged into one. What would happen if the organizations behind them all worked together rather than segregated us and pulled us apart? What would impact could be had if they pooled the funds they receive to promote their “Day” to support one effort and were held accountable for measurable outcomes?

You should know, I also believed in Santa Clause long after all my friends….

Stephan

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