In the last few weeks, many of you endorsed our Open Letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their 2013 MMWR Report on HIV Testing and Risk of US Gay, Bisexual and other MSM.
Together, we urged CDC to reduce its own risk of misleading depictions of Gay/Bi/MSM sexuality and HIV prevention practices.
We also spoke out as and for transgender women and others whose identities and lives are not accurately reflected in CDC’s data collection, publications, or programs.
We’ve already had a major victory in this powerful call to re-evaluate language, methods and recommendations in order to support our communities’ health and HIV resiliency:
In a phone meeting with HIV PJA and allies on January 23, CDC agreed to no longer use the term “unprotected sex” as “sex without condoms.”
As we noted in our letter:
In the [MMWR] report, unprotected is used to refer to the non-use of condoms. However it does not mean that sex occurred in an environment of heightened HIV risk. Although much of this data was collected before PrEP licensure, reports emerging today should use clearer language – such as “sex without condoms,” rather than “unprotected.”
These distinctions are neither political nor semantic. They are integral to reaching the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and curtailing the epidemic.
CDC also committed to working with us across the spectrum of concerns in our letter, ranging from their descriptions of sexual identity, practices and risk; HIV testing recommendations; transgender inclusion and data clarity; the National HIV Behavioral Survey; bringing a prevention approach and prioritizing structural interventions in the care continuum, and their strategies to work with the media to increase accuracy of reporting on their data.
We’ll meet with CDC representatives in person this Thursday at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Houston — and will compile the results of both meetings to give you a full report-back.
Then we’ll work with you to plan our next steps before our next agreed-upon meeting with CDC officials at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in early March! Contact us if you’d like to be involved with next steps.
Thanks to all of you for your work for HIV prevention justice, including our allies who participated in the planning and call last week: ACT UP Philadelphia, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, GMHC, Housing Works, International Rectal Microbicides Advocates (IRMA,) Positive Women’s Network of the USA, Sero Project, Transgender Law Center, Treatment Action Group and Visual AIDS.
And here’s to a year of justice ahead of us!