What PrEP means for me?

I remember how much I had to adjust myself in order to succeed in a tough city such as New York when I came to the US three years ago. It wasn’t easy. But after so much hard work, sacrifices, and sadness over being so far away from my family and people I love, I must say that it was really worth it!!!

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I spent five years studying very hard to get my Bachelor Degree in Human Resources and then four years working in the field; both in my home country Venezuela. The first months I spent in New York, I was constantly fighting a lack of motivation because I felt I was never going to get a job in my field.
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A year and a half later, I got the wonderful opportunity to start working at the Latino Commission on AIDS in the Research and Evaluation department. I must confess that I was so scared because this was a brand new thing for me. I never imagined using statistical analysis software, interpreting data, or networking with important people in the health field and also learning so much about behavioral interventions, capacity-building assistance, advocacy, and HIV testing.

Last year, I heard the word “PrEP” and terms such as “are you PrEPared?” and “#TruvadaWhore” for the first time.   As a person working in the health field, specifically data and research, I had to learn about all of this in order to be updated in my new field. But I didn’t consider the chance of using PrEP myself, because I was scared of possible side effects and also giving a bad impression to the people I would potentially date.
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Who we are, how people see us?

The 4th of July weekend was a great time to disconnect from the routine, spend time with myself and hang out with good friends. What a better way than having brunch in the morning and drinks at night. For a foreign person who is living by himself in another country and away from his family, friends become family. This means they know all the good and bad in my life.

While we were having drinks, we started talking about deeper topics such as personal experiences in life. One of my friends talked about a terrible experience he had on a date where he felt emotionally attacked by a guy who had bad overall impression of him, based on personal characteristics; what were those characteristics? Living in Chelsea, being in shape and caring about fashion. Based on these three elements, the guy told him (in a funny way) that he was a “Chelsea Boy”. My friends immediately asked him what that was. The guy defined this as a shallow, cocky and promiscuous person. But that wasn’t the first time that he had to hear that from people on dates. Continue reading

Stepping Up the Pace: IAC 2014 theme of the day.

In-Home HIV Test and an HIV Free Generation

Today’s theme at the IAC2014 is “Stepping up the Pace.” This theme seems to me like the perfect call to action that we all should heed to. The new biomedical interventions like PrEP and treatment as prevention have been making headlines all over the world. There is no denying that the science community has been active doing their share of the bargain. What about us, the general community? Continue reading

My First Step in “Stepping up the Pace”

When recently asked what we can do to step up the pace in our efforts to end the AIDS epidemic, I was instantly reminded of a recent email from the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC). The email was urging us, as constituents, to plead with the senate and foreign operation subcommittee to move the $300 million dollars that are unable to be appropriated to the Global AIDS Fund into the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Continue reading

No One Gets Left Behind! IAC 2014 theme of the day.

The Ethics of Finding a Cure for HIV

At the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, discussions about the race to cure for HIV are inevitable.   We in an exciting era in HIV research, with tumultuous announcements of breakthroughs and setbacks that we expect to lead us toward a world where HIV is an anachronism. The speed at which researchers are being funded to churn out publications toward a cure for HIV is unprecedented.

We can visualize the benefits, but at what cost?  Research and new innovations have social and ethical ramifications that should be considered, including those to human subjects –people- willing to part take in experiments.  The Mississippi Baby born with HIV and thought to have been in remission is a human subject to experimentation.  Although international policies and regulations for research with human subjects are in place, what special considerations should the HIV community consider in reaching a cure?
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