We Are Orlando

On behalf of NAESM, Inc.’s Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and supporters, we want to express our most sincere and deepest sympathies over the tragic loss of life suffered and to the countless others who have been affected by the senseless act of violence that took place at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Often times we struggle with explaining and understanding why this level of hate exists, not only in America but across the world as well. As we struggle to put into context why actions like these happen I am encouraged by the solidarity shown amongst all gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, same gender loving individuals, and allies regardless of race.

To merely say our thoughts are with our neighbors in the South, is an understatement as it doesn’t begin to perpetuate the heartache, sadness and anger that we share with them. Too frequently in history individuals are targeted for their race, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. Now is the time more than ever for us not only to continue the fight for equality for all LGBTQ+ identified persons but to push further to ensure we achieve the highest level of equity as well.

No act of hate will detour us from coming together as a community, strong and persevering! Pride and unity are more important now than ever to silence the voices of hate we have seen over the past couple of days. As we stand tall for those across the country that are hurting more now than ever I encourage everyone to put their differences aside to be the village for the community. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in moments of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please join us in standing tall. ‪#‎WEAREPULSE‬ ‪#‎WEAREORLANDO‬ ‪#‎WEARENAESM‬

Sincerely,
Darwin Thompson
Executive Director
NAESM, Inc.

The first AIDS Report

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the first AIDS report in the United States. While as a nation we have overcome so much and made many strides during this time. However, as we see continue to see the emergence of such damaging statistics like 1 in 2 Black Gay men will contract HIV in their lifetime now is not the time to be discouraged in this fight or throw in the towel. Today we celebrate the resilience of all the individuals regardless of their sexuality who have been infected or affected by this virus and chose to not let this epidemic define who they were. Today we celebrate the activists who have work so tirelessly to educate the community about this virus when they didn’t completely understand the damaging effects this virus would have on communities especially communities of color. As the Executive Director of NAESM, Inc. I have the upmost faith that we currently have the right people in place, the right leadership, and the right tools to ensure this epidemic doesn’t last another 35 years. So I challenge you today to not stigmatize a person who has contracted this virus but to ask yourself am I doing enough to make sure no one else has to ever worry about contracting this virus. Today I stand in solidarity with all the long term survivors and pledging to each of you I will do my part to help end this epidemic!

Darwin Thompson
Executive Director
NAESM, Inc.

1K Campaign!

The 1K Campaign!

The 1K Campaign!

1k-Campaign

NAESM has accepted the challenge, will you?

 

Atlanta, Georgia, May 17, 2016 – Over the past few months, we have heard many statistics that have generated several immediate calls to action. These statistics have continued to show the importance of how we must include routine HIV/STI testing coupled with other prevention tools in our lives regularly to reduce HIV transmission. If current HIV transmission rates continue as it pertains to black gay men specifically, 1 in 2 will become HIV positive in their lifetime. Though these numbers are demoralizing, we, the community have the necessary tools to change the narrative and create change! As one of the leading organizations in Atlanta shifting the narrative, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to launch the “1K Campaign”. The 1K Campaign is a pledge that is dedicated to testing 1,000 individuals for HIV by National HIV Testing Day, which is June 27th. This also includes linking newly diagnosed individuals to medical care within 30 days.

“I asked myself, is this achievable, when I originally drafted the 1K Campaign.” Darwin Thompson, NAESM’s Executive Director questioned. “I looked at it again and said, yes it can be achieved. We have the necessary tools and readily available resources to not only make this campaign impactful, but to succeed in achieving the goal of testing 1,000 individuals. But we cannot do this work alone! The recent statistics have generated a national call to action, so we are asking all community based organizations, federally qualified health centers, PLWHA (People Living With HIV/AIDS), community activists, government officials and last, but not least friends and family members to accept the challenge and strive to get 1,000 individuals tested in your local area by National HIV Testing Day (June 27th). Now is not the time for us to operate in silos when it comes to this epidemic. We need to stand united with a common mission…which is the elimination of HIV within the community. NAESM has accepted the challenge, will you?”

There are multiple ways individuals can get involved in this campaign. Individuals and agencies can get involved by:
• Accepting the 1K Challenge and posting the flyer on their social media platforms.
• Volunteering at a local CBO to assist in outreach/testing efforts.
• Making a one-time monetary donation to a local AIDS Service Organization to help in the HIV/AIDS fight.
• Encouraging individuals to get tested and know their status.
• Working with individuals who are not linked or engaged in care to become more active and engaged in their care

The mission of NAESM is to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by Black gay men through advocacy, services, and education. NAESM is a financially solvent service organization with a supportive leadership structure and diverse board of directors that builds a community of Black gay men to eliminate HIV and other health conditions that disproportionately affect our community. NAESM fosters a climate of trust, integrity, and respect that encourages the provision of quality services.

###

For more information on The 1K Campaign or if you are interested in accepting the challenge please contact Damon Johnson at damonj@naesm.org or (404)691-8880(ext. 46).

From Boulevard of Broken Dreams to House of H.O.P.E. (Housing, Opportunity, Prevention, Empowerment)

Public health aficionados love to throw around the term, “Housing as prevention!” but what does that really mean? Most of us in the field have some form of shelter to go to at the end of our 10+ hour days. Whatever form it may present itself; a warm apartment, an amazing industrial loft or a cozy bungalow. We have a place to kick off our shoes and relax our feet, soak them in some Epsom salt while lavender candles burn in the background depending on what type of day you had. 

Often times, we forget that a house is more than a roof with four walls some doors and windows or a state of mind. A house must initially begin with an established foundation to support the structures that are built atop of it. If my foundation is unhinged due to cracks or in some extreme cases, my foundation doesn’t exist at all; I am more susceptible to a myriad of issues including expensive repairs or a crumbling structure.

BP Pic 3According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, at least 13,790 people were considered homeless in the state of Georgia in January 2015. The City of Atlanta was “home” to 4,317 of those reported as homeless; 24% of those braved the cold in an unsheltered state, while the other 76% were lucky enough to reside in Emergency or Transitional Housing facilities. Poverty was the unifying condition for essentially all of Georgia’s homeless population. Other factors that place many people at risk for homelessness include physical disability or chronic medical problems, family violence, mental illness and substance abuse. Substance abusers are the most vulnerable people affected by homelessness, accounting for almost 20%.

Now for the translation…homelessness is a psychosocial, socioeconomic and health concept that affects EVERY ONE OF US! For those fortunate enough to live in midtown and you walk out of your house to see the collective of individuals standing on Piedmont, whose mere presence you constantly gripe about…homeless. That friend of yours who comes over more frequently than not and sleeps on your couch and you can’t remember the last time they invited you over…probably homeless. For those who wonder why incarceration and STD rates continue to rise…these happen to be both consequences and causes of chronic HOMELESSNESS.

Gerald’s House, formerly AESM House opened its doors in 1994. The housing program had the objective of stable housing for men living with HIV/AIDS, who were also homeless or living in less BP Picthan desirable conditions. Gerald’s House provided a stable environment to increase my medication adherence because I knew I had a place to lay my head and proper places to store my medication. You were provided an address to put on applications, improving the likelihood that you would get a job, obtain insurance and eat. We all know the Medicaid and food stamp folk love to send correspondence via snail mail. Gerald’s House also laid the foundation for our underlying mental health and substance issues to be addressed because one of our biggest problems was addressed; a safe place to lay our heads. Today, the Gerald’s House Initiative continues to provide the same comprehensive, affordable and secure housing options since its commencement. Residents of the program have the advantage of utilizing the onsite supportive services to escalate their self-sufficiency. These FREE services include non-medical case management, mental health and substance abuse counseling, peer support, job training and housing activities.

Additionally, through the Gerald’s House Initiative there are now financial assistance programs available to assist those transitioning into permanent housing solutions. The Deposit Assistance Program (DAP) assists PLWHA cover the costs of either the initial deposit or the first month’s rent for home sweet home. The Short Term Rental, Mortgage and Utility (STRMU) Assistance Program covers the aforementioned expenses for a period of up to 21 weeks in a 52 week period. Individuals qualifying for STRMU assistance must currently be housed and demonstrate that the absence of assistance will result in homelessness. 

Housing assistance is a powerful and cost effective way to improve health outcomes and prevent the onset of illness. More than 250 men and women have called Gerald’s House “home” or benefitted from its supplementary services. If your house is not a home, please take our quick assessment to see if you qualify for assistance.


Or if you would like to donate to the Gerald’s House Initiative or any of our robust services, contact me at 404 691 8880 ext 25.

#NAESM2016 #liveit #beit #ownit #goodtogreat #prevention

D’Metris W. – Grants & Events Specialist

NSPIRE – A NAESM Initiative!

NSPIRE-Logo

Atlanta, Georgia, April 6, 2016 – NAESM’s Department of Prevention and Support Services would like to announce NSPIRE, an all-new program to help aid newly diagnosed, HIV positive young men who have sex with men (YMSM). NSPIRE (Necessary Support to Prevent, Intervene, Reduce and Eliminate HIV-related Health Inequities) is one of NAESM’s responses to the HIV lifetime risk data that was released at CROI 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if current HIV diagnoses rates continue, about 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. For NAESM’s Executive Director, Darwin Thompson, this served as a wakeup call but also an opportunity to redesign and implement targeted HIV prevention programs to ensure NAESM is during our part to help reduce lifetime risk.

“1 in 2 black men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime is disheartening but is absolutely preventable. We currently have viable options to help prevent infections which include effective strategies like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Treatment as Prevention (TasP). To support those strategies in the fight against new infections we have structured a program for young men who have sex with men to make sure they’re making healthier and more informed decisions in response to the lifetime HIV risk data presented by the CDC. In addition to this program, as an organization we must continue to have a concentrated focus on YMSM 18-24 years old as they remain the face of the HIV epidemic.” expressed Thompson.

NSPIRE is intended to: assess, acknowledge, and address systematic, structural, personal (emotional, spiritual, physical, familial, mental and/or literacy) and social factors that serve and or may serve as barriers to viral suppression. NSPIRE will stand true to its mission, to connect newly diagnosed HIV positive YMSM between 18-24 years of age with supportive mentors to help them on their road to viral suppression. While the core of this program will focus on viral suppression, mentors will be tasked with working with their mentees to address and achieve other life goals as well.

The mission of NAESM is to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by black gay men through advocacy, services, and education. NAESM, Inc. was created in an effort to counteract the ever increasing spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color with a focus on black gay men. NSPIRE was made possible by generous support from Janssen Therapeutics and the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund.

###

If you have any questions about NSPIRE or are interested in becoming a mentor,

feel free to contact Damon Johnson at (404) 691-8880 [ext. 46] or by email at damonj@naesm.org.

 

 

Job Opportunity – Mental Health Counselor

logo
Atlanta, GA, March 8, 2015 – NAESM is proud to announce the opening of the Mental Health Counselor position. We will be looking for the individual to start as soon as possible. If you meet the qualifications, we encourage you to submit a résumé with a letter of interest. Applications are kept on file for six months. After this time has lapsed, applicants will have to reapply. Salaries are competitive. NAESM is an Equal Opportunity Employer. PLWA are encouraged to apply.

NAESM is a financially solvent service organization with a supportive leadership structure and diverse board of directors that builds a community of Black gay men to eliminate HIV and other health conditions that disproportionately affect our community. NAESM fosters a climate of trust, integrity, and respect that encourages the provision of quality services. NAESM’s goal is to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by black gay men through advocacy, services, and education.

As one of the leading organizations facing these issues head on in the metro Atlanta area, we are transforming and expanding our services to the community at large. These positions can be applied for directly through our site at http://naesm.org/about-us/careers/.
###
If you have any questions about the openings, feel free to contact Darwin Thompson at (404) 691-8880 or by email at info@naesm.org.

East Coast vs. West Coast: The Saga Continues!

East Coast vs. West Coast: The Saga Continues!

NAESMLA2016 (684)Rewind to October 5, 2015 as I sit in Orientation; my first official day as a member of the swiftly growing NAESM staff. Imagine how it felt to hear that in a few months I would be traveling to Los Angeles, California to take part in the agency’s 13th installment of their National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities. I squealed in excitement at the potential performer (*cough cough) and the thought of traveling to LA. The furthest West I had previously been was Texas. I was forewarned of all of the hard work that would entail hosting the conference. However, I was up for the challenge and without hesitation signed up to be a part of the “Experience Committee”.

Fast forward to January, balancing my daily duties (Housing never sleeps!) and finalizing conference planning required a little organization but I was still hanging in there. My excitement, ever increasing as I started building my playlist for the trip there; songs included “California” by Colonel Loud, “Hotel California” by Eagles and “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Tony Toni Tone. The staff meeting updates and Condom Packing Parties quelled the anxieties of the impending trip. Although I knew I most likely knew I wouldn’t get the opportunity to attend the great line up of plenaries and sessions, I saw a vast opportunity. An opportunity to coalesce with my peers; diverse, highly educated, subject matter experts on issues plaguing our people, their subcultures.

When I hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my coral blazer I knew we had T-minus 12 hours before showtime! The moment when “the experience” for the participants wafted into the halls of the Hilton LAX, myself and 13 other staff members welcoming and eager to assist. My thirteen plus hour days generally consisted of me assisting with registering participants, adding to the aesthetics of our Exhibit Hall and Receptions, escorting people through the winding corridors of the hotel to their desired destinations, “monitoring” the crowds and ushering people into the larger events and assisting with transforming smaller spaces for the next event. It was in those same hours that I got to meet majority of NAESM’s Board members; special shout out to the very amicable and REAL, Mr. Bates (he’s going to kill me for calling him that) who was also honored during the Black Gay Legend’s Ball for his countless contributions to the field of public health.

I witnessed the vibrancy that is the Ballroom scene, where Legendary Houses competed alongside the likes of “virgins” Byron Keaton, who gave us some nasty shoulder work and received 10s across the board to take home a cash prize and trophy. I also honed in on my anchoring skills during our recorded interviews with attendees, led by the talented Rameses Frederick of Urban Socialites, who took me from Kardashian to Couric (with a little work and many takes). Most importantly, during these hours those staff members transitioned into my family.

Being behind the scenes of the 2016 Conference was easier than it seemed but harder than it looked. I owe eight years of prior experience, a specialization in Community Planning and working in a man’s world with helping me get through the days that ensued unscathed; or at the very minimum, with unchipped polish, hair laid and decent make up skills to hide the circles under my eyes. Whilst, I was tasked with ensuring the participants got what they paid for, an unforgettable experience. Wonderfully sacred memories captured by the provided selfie sticks and engrained into spaces contained within their heads and onto their social media pages. Supplementary to the memories, conducive movements capitulated by an idea that sparked revolution. In exchange, I was afforded the opportunity to Live in the experience that the “City of Angels” blessed me with, Be amongst multigenerational leaders and Own my place in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other health disparities.

THANK YOU for bringing your passion, knowledge and artillery to Los Angeles! We look forward to seeing you in Dallas… 😀
#NAESM2016 #liveit #beit #ownit #goodtogreat

Banner2017

Bringing the Excitement to LA

Bringing the Excitement to L.A! #NAESM2016


January proved to be a very exciting month for NAESM and MSM Engagement! The 2016 National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities gave us the opportunity to bring together hundreds of gay black leaders from all across the nation to convene in one space to discuss concerns pertaining to our health. Driven by the theme: Live It, Be It, Own It: Taking Ownership of Our Health, we were granted the platform to unite as a community and empower ourselves in the fight against this epidemic. As an addition to the excitement, the conference took place in sunny Los Angeles, a west-coast dream destination!! Immediately after exiting my aircraft and entered LAX, excitement boiled within me and the anticipation of presenting an engaging and educational conference skyrocketed.

Once the conference began, one of my main functions was to attend to registering our guests. While working the registration desk, I was given the pleasure of meeting and greeting all conference participants and the positivity and energy received was compelling. I enjoyed the opportunity, while searching for name tags, to engage the participants with “small chat” to see what brought them to Los Angeles and their expectation for the conference. Most people simply replied that they had come to the conference to receive more information around the complexities we face as a community and to network, others came for work obligations. Some were there to present information on recent research, discoveries, and best practices. Even though the reason for attending varied, it was clear that the vast majority of participants were excited and ready to receive all that the conference had to offer.

In addition to interacting with our guests, my conference highlights would include the Opening Reception, PrEP Mini- House Ball, and the late nights/early mornings spent bonding with the team. The Opening Reception took place on Thursday night and was an explosive event with food, music, socializing, and fun. The conference attendees were able to “get their life” and interact with our staff through dialogue (and dance battles). Friday night, the Mini-Ball propelled the social fire of the conference, as we watched the KIDS vogue the house down and battle, while sharing facts about PrEP! The LA Ball Room Community came out in nice numbers showing their support, and it was greatly appreciated.

                     

LA was the first opportunity for our staff to get outside of the office and truly get to know one another in a different environment. Pulling together to ensure that the logistics of the conference were implemented without flaw, created a positive organizational synergy that could be felt by not only the team, but also by those who witnessed our interactions. To continuously hear how professional and unified we were kept me smiling from ear to ear and enhanced my conference experience overall. Now that we are back in Atlanta, I am RECHARGED in this fight against HIV/AIDS, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Dallas next year!

#Liveit #Beit #Ownit

-Marxavian J.

The MARI (Minority AIDS Research Initiative) Study

This study is designed to target African American Men Seeking Men (MSM) in the Atlanta-Metro area and study both the physiological and environmental aspects that influence health disparities, with a heavy focus on risky sexual behaviors that may attribute to HIV and other STI’s. The study is designed for participants to undergo a physical examination that collects samples of body measurements, blood pressure, height, weight, as well as HIV & STI testing. Participants also complete a survey that further assesses how individual and environmental influences may attribute to risky sexual behaviors among African American MSM. This study is collecting specific data in order to gain a better understanding of this cause.

The MARI (Minority AIDS Research Initiative) Study

November 10-November 16– MARI Study Recruitment

November 17– First MARI Study @ NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

November 19– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

November 21– MARI Study Recruitment @West End Mall, 12:00-3:00PM

November 24– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

November 30– MARI Recruitment Event @ Time Lounge, TBA

December 1– World AIDS Day, MARI Recruitment & Incentive Study
 10:00-1:00, Georgia State University
 Morehouse College, Time TBA

December 3– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

December 5– MARI Study @NAESM, 9:00-1:00
MARI Study Timeline
 9:00-10:30, 3 participants
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:00, Quality Assurance

December 8– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants

December 10-MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants

December 12- MARI Study @NAESM, 9:00-1:00
 9:00-10:30, 3 participants
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:00, Quality Assurance

December 15- MARI Study (MARI Day) @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

December 17– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

December 22– MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 10:30-12:00, 3 participants
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

**December 28– MARI Study @ NAESM, Tentative
December 29- Last Day of MARI Study @NAESM, 10:30-4:30
 12:00-1:30, 3 participants
 1:30-3:00, 3 participants
 3:00-4:30, Quality Assurance

If you qualify and successfully complete this study, you will receive a $50 gift card on behalf of NAESM, Inc.