Dec 012012
 

Today is World AIDS Day. All day today, December 1st.

World AIDS Day logo

What is it? According to WorldAidsDay.org, “World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.”

However, it is so much more than that. Having HIV or AIDS used to be, and still can be, incredibly stigmatized. People are judged for having this illness, regardless of how they got it, their identities, their communities, etc. Originally, it was named a gay man’s disease. Although one of the largest growing group of those newly diagnosed with HIV is straight women of color, it is sometimes still thought of as a disease in the gay man’s community.

Honestly, however people view HIV and AIDS, it doesn’t matter as much as support those who are living with HIV and AIDS (and their loved ones), remembering those who are no longer with us because of these illnesses, and working to prevent the further spread of HIV and AIDS…and that is where it is crucial for people to understand that this isn’t a homosexual disease, that it wasn’t sent by G-d to kill the gays, and that until we can feel empathy or at least sympathy for those living with HIV and AIDS, we continue to stigmatize and hurt those already hurting.

Take a moment today to think about what you have personally done to fight HIV and AIDS, or to support those and their families who have it. Whether it is raising awareness, volunteering with a hospice, donating to a local organization, handing out condoms and dams at Pride, you name it, there are ways to help. Please decide one way that you’re going to help fight HIV and AIDS over the next year…and here’s the important part; DO IT. It’s here, and it’s not going to go away if we close our eyes. So let’s do something to make a change.

Jun 272011
 

Today is National HIV Testing Day. It is estimated that one in five folks living with HIV is not yet aware of that yet, and that 40% of people aren’t diagnosed until symptoms have progressed to AIDS.

HIV testing is cheap (and often free, especially if you go to a local clinic/non-profit), quick and confidential. Why wouldn’t you want to know your status? Knowledge is power, and knowing your status (as well as the status of your partner/partners) gives you power over your own sexual health and wellness.

So why not hop over to your local Planned Parenthood, STI clinic, HIV/AIDS outreach group, or Doctor’s office, and get yourself tested today…or tomorrow…or any time in the near future. Give yourself more power.

Plus, it doesn’t have to be an “icky” experience. If you are partnered, make it a date. Go get tested together, and then grab some ice cream, or check out a movie, or go for a walk. If you’re going on your own, celebrate taking charge of your sexual wellness after testing by treating yourself to a cupcake, or a dip in a pool.

HIV is not a death sentence, but you cannot manage it if you don’t know that you have it. Be good to yourself, to your current, past and future partners, and take the step to gain the knowledge and the power of knowing your status.

Happy National HIV Testing Day!

-Shanna

May 302011
 

As some of you know, I’m incredibly nerdy, and incredibly weird. And incredibly happy to have completed my stuffed STI collection from GiantMicrobes.com.

Stuffed Chlamydia, HPV, Syphilis, and Herpes (in clockwise order)

Stuffed HIV, Hepititis and Gonorrhea

Yep. I own lots of weird teaching tools, and these are my latest additions. Little things make me oh so happy!

Feb 072011
 

For those who do not know, many sex educators, myself included, were recently attacked in a post/report that claimed that our education on the Brown University campus was a direct correlation of the recent four new cases of HIV within the student population. It stated that people such as myself (a “sex toy representative”) did not have the education to provide sex ed to students, to handle the emotional side of things, etc (of course, they neglected to mention my Master’s in Human Sexuality Education, which provided me with exactly those aforementioned skills). It also insinuated that I was a prostitute, that other educators are connected with obscenity charges and that some educators are contributing to STI transmission by discussion topics such as polyamory (multiple loves) and anal sex, despite our conversations about barrier methods, testing, and intimacy without exchanging bodily fluids.

I have always had a strong commitment to educating individuals and groups about safer sex, including but not limited to STI prevention, pregnancy prevention, consensual activities and emotional safety. As I continue to educate people about the spectrum of sexuality, I will keep including discussions about safer sex practices (including barriers and transmission prevention) for people of all genders and orientations, and also continue my commitment to distribute dams and gloves in addition to the more traditional condoms and lube freebies often provided. Please read and re-post/forward/desseminate the below press release if you believe the positive aspects of sex education, and refuse to condone the slanderous accusations put forth towards us.

-Shanna Katz, M.Ed

For Immediate Release
Sexuality educators set the record straight: “Talking about sexuality does not increase sexually transmitted infections” despite what non-experts report.

Contact: ?Megan Andelloux
HiOhMegan@gmail.com
401-345-8685

Contact: Aida Manduley
Aida_manduley@brown.edu
787-233-0025

In yet another attempt to shut down access to quality sex education, South-Eastern New England conservative advocates hit the sex panic button in a multi-state, email and phone campaign to colleges all over New England last week.

On February 3rd and 4th , certified sexuality educator and sexologist Megan Andelloux (AASECT, ACS) received word that numerous colleges and university faculty received a document stating that colleges who brought sex educators such as Ms. Andelloux onto their campuses were linked to the increasing rate of transmission of HIV in RI. Furthermore, among other misleading “facts” that were “cited,” the author of this bulletin claimed that Brown University was facing an HIV crisis, which is false.

Citizens Against Trafficking, the face behind the fear-mongering, spammed numerous local institutions from a University of Rhode Island account with its latest malicious missive that targeted specific individuals as well as Brown University. The author of the letter, Margaret Brooks, an Economics Professor at Bridgewater State, suggested that colleges and universities that host sexuality speakers, including those who are professionally accredited, are partly to blame for the four new cases of HIV which have been diagnosed amongst RI college students this year.

Ms. Andelloux states: “My heart goes out to those students who have recently tested positive for HIV. However, there is no evidence of any link between campus presentations on sexual issues and the spike in HIV cases. Rather, I would suggest that this demonstrates a need for more high-quality sex education to college students.“ It is unclear why people at URI or Citizens Against Trafficking, a coalition to combat all forms of human trafficking, is attempting to stop adults from accessing sexual information from qualified, trained educators. What is certain however, is that this Professor of Economics miscalculated her suggestion that a correlation exists between increased HIV rates in Rhode Island and the type of sex education these speakers provided at Brown University: one that emphasized accurate information, risk-reduction, pleasure, and health.

Barrier methods have been shown by the CDC to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Research has shown that when individuals have access to medically accurate information, are aware of sexual risk reduction methods, and have access to learn about sexual health, the number of infections and transmission of STIs decreases, pain during sex decreases, and condom use increases. The CAT circulated bulletin is blatantly misleading about many issues, and often omits information that is crucial to understanding the full picture of sex education at Brown and in Rhode Island.

When individuals who do not hold any background in sexuality education speak out in opposition because of their fear or prejudice, society becomes rooted in outdated beliefs and pseudo-science that do injustice to people everywhere. Furthermore, when those individuals personally and publicly attack those devoted to providing sex education with false and misinformed accusations, it not only hurts those who are defamed, but also the community at large.

We ask for an immediate retraction of the vilifying and inaccurate statements made by Ms. Margaret Brooks and Citizens Against Trafficking in their latest newsletter. We also ask that esteemed local universities such as URI and Bridgewater State continue to hold their employees to ethical standards of normal scientific inquiry and require that their faculty hold some modicum of expertise in a field of education before raising the public level of panic over it.

Megan Andelloux is available to answer any questions the press, Margaret Brooks, University of Rhode Island or Citizens Against Trafficking holds. Aida Manduley, the Chair of Brown University’s Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council and Brown University’s is available to discuss the upcoming Sex Week and sexuality workshops held at Brown University.

Signed,
Megan Andelloux, AASECT, ACS
Shanna Katz, M.Ed
Reid Mihalko
Aida Manduley