Chris Sanders

  • Putting a target on school libraries in Tennessee

    There has been a growing effort to label content about race, sexuality, and gender in school libraries as obscene and remove it from the shelves. See this compelling piece from The 19th.

    Tennessee now joins the ranks of states where these battles will rage in 2022. Rep. Scott Cepicky has filed HB1944, which, according to the official summary, "excludes local education agencies, public schools, and employees and private contractors of LEAs or public schools from the exception to certain obscenity offenses if the LEA, public school, employee, or private contractor possesses obscene material that is harmful to minors on public school premises; prohibits an LEA or public school from making obscene materials or materials harmful to minors available to students in the school libraries controlled by the LEA or public school."

    We will have to watch to see how the discussion unfolds about what counts as obscene. But if action around the country is any guide, LGBTQ materials are among the targets.


  • published New anti-trans athlete bills filed in Blog 2022-01-20 12:24:06 -0600

    New anti-trans athlete bills filed

    The Tennessee General Assembly's new session has just started and, to no one's surprise, discriminatory bills are back.

    There are a number of bills we are already watching, but there are two new anti-transgender student athlete bills that were filed today.

    HB1894 and HB1895 by Rep. John Ragan would bar trans women and girls from participating in women and girls' athletics and would punish school districts that refused to comply. 

    We will need everyone's help to fight discriminatory legislation this year. If you would like to volunteer as a district captain, use this quick form to let us know. District captains meet with their own legislators to advocate for the LGBTQ community.


  • Notes from the TN Dept of Health: Addressing inequalities and HIV

    The following information was written by and is provided in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

    World AIDS Day is observed on the first of December every year. Established in 1988, this day has been committed to raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and mourning those who have died of the disease. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the theme for the 2021 observance is “End inequalities. End AIDS”. WHO and its partners are spotlighting the many inequalities in access to vital HIV services. They are calling on global leaders and citizens to challenge the inequalities that drive the AIDS epidemic and to extend support to people who are not receiving essential HIV assistance. They are placing a special focus on “reaching people left behind.”

    Inequalities are pervasive in our world, and WHO has a series of key messages for this year’s World AIDS Day observance to help focus on those which impact people living with HIV and their care significantly:

    1. Re-commit to end HIV
    2. Tackle HIV and COVID-19 together
    3. Focus on equality
    4. Concentrate on those left behind 

    What does it mean to re-commit to ending HIV?

    The public health community has reported that at every level (local, state, regional, and national) there are a constellation of obstacles to engagement in HIV care and treatment, substantially hampering the effectiveness of concerted efforts to improve health outcomes for those living with HIV. For individuals with HIV who experience poor access to comprehensive healthcare services, the benefits that come with undetectable equals untransmittable status (U=U) — a long life free from complications due to their HIV — are not in their reach. People need to be able to learn that they have HIV quickly after exposure, to be connected to treatment as soon as possible after learning their status, and to be securely engaged in a care regimen that will be lifelong. 

    In Tennessee in 2019, only 61% of people diagnosed with HIV were linked to care within 30 days.  Being linked is just the beginning of the story; people living with HIV need ongoing access to care to achieve the undetectable status that will most benefit their health. For people diagnosed within a year, 59% had two sets of labs run by their HIV medical providers in 2019 and 65% achieved viral suppression (Tennessee Department of Health). 

    When looking at who is getting into HIV care quickly and who is not, there are significant disparities. Non-Hispanic Black people and young people (ages 15-24 years old) had consistently lower rates of linkage to care compared with their peers living with HIV. While Hispanic people in 2019 who were diagnosed with HIV had higher rates of linkage to care, they were the least likely to stay engaged in that care (where engagement is measured by at least two visits to a provider with lab work in a year) and the least likely to achieve viral suppression within a year. And while newly-diagnosed men living with HIV who have sex with other men were the most likely to achieve viral suppression in 2019, Black people living with HIV (men included) were less likely to enjoy that positive health milestone (Tennessee Department of Health). 

    This does represent modest improvement over the last five years. For Tennesseans in their first year living with HIV, there are higher rates of rapid linkage to care (within 30 days of diagnosis) and of viral suppression in the first year for people of every age, race, ethnicity, and gender as compared with 2015.  

    Re-committing to ending HIV means refusing to be satisfied with progress and continuing to push for the rapid linkage to care, ongoing and active engagement in care, and viral suppression outcomes that demonstrate that Tennesseans living with HIV are able to enjoy long, healthy lives free from HIV-related health consequences and fear that they will pass it to their partners.

     

    What does it mean to tackle HIV and COVID-19 together?

     

    In Tennessee, 1.3 million people have contracted COVID-19 and ~17,900 people have lost their lives to it. Hospital systems in every part of the state have been overwhelmed with patients fighting COVID since the pandemic began, and health care systems have felt that impact from the hospital to the clinic level. The last three years have been marked by dramatic shifts in how people come together, and the changing social distancing recommendations and practices caused by the pandemic have impacted HIV prevention and care activities for better and worse. In 2021, more people living with and vulnerable to HIV have access to telehealth and virtual peer support than ever before — but this access is not universal; it is also true that there are fewer in-person opportunities for peer support, HIV testing, HIV prevention, and in some cases longer wait times for HIV care appointments now than pre-pandemic. According to the Tennessee COVID-19 Unified Command Data Dashboard, only ~50% of people in our state are vaccinated, leaving many Tennesseans at risk for the foreseeable future.

     

    Some people living with HIV are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 than others. If their HIV is poorly controlled, their weakened immune system puts them in this higher risk category. People living with HIV may also have one or more additional health concerns that puts them in this category. They might be at higher risk because of their age (65 and up), or because of where they live (in long-term care facilities or in incarcerated settings). CDC has more information about how COVID-19 impacts people living with HIV here. Everyone living with HIV needs ready access to the vaccine and to medical providers they trust who can answer their questions with accurate information. In Tennessee, HIV Centers of Excellence are all places where people living with HIV can get access to testing, information, and vaccinations. To best protect themselves from COVID-19, all people living with HIV should be fully vaccinated and receive the recommended additional dose. 

     

    People who are not living with HIV have a role to play here as well. Regular testing, removing yourself from social situations when sick, vaccination, and masking in public spaces all help control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the harm it brings for people living with HIV. 

     

    What does it mean to focus on equality in our efforts to end HIV?

     

    Issues of equality outside of access to health care can and do create significant barriers to HIV prevention and success in HIV treatment. One obvious and well-demonstrated example is housing. A person who lacks stable housing is more likely to contract HIV if they do not have it and less likely to succeed in HIV treatment if they do. Recent homelessness doubles a person’s risk of contracting HIV, and groups of people who experience homelessness at higher rates (including LGBTQ youth, parenting youth, and transgender adults) also experience increased risk of contracting HIV. Housing instability is the most reliable predictor that a person will delay HIV testing, and that people will struggle at every step once diagnosed with HIV. For more information about all the research related to HIV and homelessness, click here. For information about the Tennessee Department of Health’s HOPWA Program, which provides federal housing assistance for people living with HIV, click here.

     

    Beyond housing, poverty itself has a profound impact on what living with HIV is like for Tennesseans. According to the 2019 State of Tennessee HIV Epidemiologic Profile, the median household income in Tennessee is significantly less than the national average ($53,320 versus $62,843), and our state “continues to experience racial and ethnic disparities in household income, with white households reporting higher median income ($56,725) compared to Black and Hispanic households ($38,791 and $43,885, respectively).” 

    Low-income Tennesseans are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV. Black and Hispanic households struggle with lower incomes and Black and Hispanic people living with HIV have poorer outcomes in HIV care. Young adults, parenting young adults, gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men, and transgender people also often work with fewer financial resources and are more likely to struggle to attain HIV viral suppression. Aging Americans, and especially LGBTQ seniors, experience higher rates of poverty and homelessness, and people living with HIV are aging with it (SAGE, 2021).

    People living with HIV who are impacted by poverty are more likely to make decisions about their health that reflect compromises due to their lack of resources. While people living with HIV in Tennessee who are enrolled in the Ryan White program are more likely to be in care by the end of the first year (99% compared with 80% for people with HIV outside the program), more likely to be engaged in their care (76% versus 41%), and more likely to be virally suppressed (80% versus 50%), for some this comes with a significant trade off: their HIV care under Ryan White is exceptional, but ~28% remain uninsured. 

    One way to shift our efforts that address equality for people living with HIV is through the Ryan White Part B Insurance Assistance Program. People who are a part of the Ryan White Part B program can get comprehensive health insurance paid for, which greatly expands their access to medical services beyond just what is needed to treat and control their HIV. While most Ryan White clients have taken advantage of this benefit, more than one in five are still uninsured. Ryan White Part B clients can explore this option with their case manager. 

    What does it mean to concentrate on those left behind?

    We know that when it comes to HIV, different types of people are left behind in different ways. Young people still lack access to HIV testing, are taking longer to get connected to care, and are struggling to achieve viral suppression. Black and Hispanic people in Tennessee living with HIV are less likely to be engaged in care and virally suppressed. We know that transgender people living with HIV in Tennessee are a large group with significant challenges, but we do not have enough data to paint a clear picture about exactly what those challenges are. People aging with HIV need care that is focused on more than just their HIV, and often struggle with securing the basic daily needs (like housing and food) that contribute to their overall quality of life.  

    As we move into 2022, concentrating on those left behind means increasing access to HIV prevention and care, working strategically with groups of people who have historically struggled to control HIV, and changing what it means for someone living with HIV to be supported in their healthcare. 

    When it comes to HIV Prevention, Tennesseans can access free condoms, free rapid HIV testing, and free education about and support accessing PrEP. For people without health insurance, there are several resources that cover the prescription costs for PrEP (click here to learn more and/or contact your local PrEP navigator). For people with health insurance, PrEP’s grade A recommendation from USPSTF means that insurance providers must waive all costs including co-pays and deductibles associated with it. For Tennesseans struggling with opioid use, there are more syringe exchange and harm reduction support services now than ever before. There is a significant statewide effort to coordinate support for HIV, STIs, substance use disorder, and Viral Hepatitis that now includes new resources and new agencies funded to support the work. In Memphis, there are new resources and new agencies joining the fight to end HIV through the Ending the Epidemic Initiative

    For people living with HIV, the option to use take advantage of Ryan White to obtain comprehensive health insurance is a game-changer. This allows people living with HIV to access the expert support of a Ryan White case manager, their local HIV Center of Excellence, and the resources to prioritize their health concerns beyond just their HIV. 

    In 2022, it is time for all of us to recommit our efforts to ending HIV by expanding the fight beyond the narrow scope of the virus itself, making sure no one is left out of the work, taking the necessary steps to fight COVID-19 along the way, and using every available resource at our disposal.


  • published TEP Gumbo Contest Sponsorships 2022 2021-12-09 19:17:46 -0600

    TEP Gumbo Contest Sponsorships 2022

    The 10th Tennessee Equality Project Gumbo Contest will be held on Sunday, February 27, 2022 from 4:30 to 7 PM at the Creative Arts Building at Liberty Park. TEP's annual Mardi Gras celebration brings together teams from near and far to compete for the best gumbo in Memphis. Gumbo contestants will be awarded prizes by an appointed panel of judges and by individual tasters like you in the People’s Choice competition.

    TEP's annual Mardi Gras gumbo competition draws large crowds who support the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South and draws many public and elected officials. 

    You can support this year’s event and the work of TEP to advance and protect equality in Tennessee as a host or in-kind sponsor. Here are the steps:

    1. Review the sponsor information below and select the right level for you on the left. If you prefer to write a check for your sponsorship, mail a check to "TEP Foundation", c/o Shahin Samiei at 4125 Hilldale Avenue, Memphis TN 38117
    2. If you choose a Flaming or Hot sponsorship, you will be assigned a VIP Table closest to the dance floor in the event space in the order that sponsorship are completed. Sponsors will receive tickets by mail to the purchaser within a few weeks of the event. 
    3. Sponsors must submit event program ads and organizational logos for the sponsor reel (300+ dpi image) to Chaz Fowler at [email protected] by February 1, 2022 to guarantee ad placement. Contact us about ad specifications. 

    HOST SPONSORSHIPS

    How spicy do like your gumbo? Gumbo contest sponsors may contribute as hosts for this event at the Flaming, Hot, Medium or Mild level as individuals, organizations or businesses:

    INFERNO SPONSOR

    Inferno sponsor giving $3000 or more will receive:

    • Event naming rights
    • VIP Table (8 seats) with complimentary King Cake (while supplies last). After making your sponsorship donation, you will be prompted to choose a VIP table nearest the stage and dance floor. 
    • 8 gumbo tasting tickets for the People’s Choice competition which includes live music and 8 beer/soft drink pass wristbands. 
    • Promotional advertisement of your business on the event web page. 
    • Promotion of your business or organization on the TEP Gumbo contest website and in the event program (full page ad - 5.5 x 8.5”), event announcements, event advertising poster, and two individual slides on the sponsor reel display.*

    🔥FLAMING SPONSOR🔥

    Flaming sponsors giving $1000 or more will receive:

    • VIP Table (8 seats) with complimentary King Cake (while supplies last). After making your sponsorship donation, you will be prompted to choose a VIP table nearest the stage and dance floor. 
    • 8 gumbo tasting tickets for the People’s Choice competition which includes live music and 8 beer/soft drink pass wristbands. 
    • Promotional advertisement of your business on the event web page. 
    • Promotion of your business or organization on the TEP Gumbo contest website and in the event program (full page ad - 5.5 x 8.5”), event announcements, event advertising poster, and two individual slides on the sponsor reel display.*

    HOT SPONSOR

    Hot sponsors giving $500-999 will receive:

    • VIP Table (8 seats) with complimentary King Cake (while supplies last). After making your sponsorship donation, you will be prompted to choose a VIP table nearest the stage and dance floor. 
    • 8 gumbo tasting tickets for the People’s Choice competition which includes live music and 8 beer/soft drink pass wristbands.
    • Promotional advertisement of your business on the event web page. 
    • Promotion of your business or organization on the TEP Gumbo contest website and in the event program (full page ad - 5.5 x 8.5”), event announcements, and an individual slide on a sponsor reel display.*

    MEDIUM SPONSOR

    Medium sponsors giving $250-499 will receive:

    • 4 gumbo tasting tickets for the People’s Choice competition which includes live music and 4 beer/soft drink pass wristbands. 
    • Promotional advertisement of your business on the event web page. 
    • Promotion of your business or organization on the TEP Gumbo contest website and in the event program (half page ad - 5.5 x 4.25” or 2.75 x 8.5”), and a shared slide on the sponsor reel display.*

    MILD SPONSOR

    Mild sponsors giving $100-249 will receive:

    • 2 gumbo tasting tickets for the People’s Choice competition which includes live music and 4 beer/soft drink pass wristbands.
    • Promotion of your business or organization in the event program (quarter page ad - 5.5 x 2.125” or 2.75 x 4.25”) and on a shared slide on the sponsor reel display.*

    *Sponsors must submit event program ads and organizational logos for the sponsor reel (300+ dpi image) to Chaz Fowler at [email protected] by February 1, 2022 to guarantee ad placement. Click here for sponsor level link for ad specifications.

    Click the "Continue" button on the left to contribute your desired sponsorship level based on the above table. 

    IN-KIND SPONSORS

    In-kind gifts of decorations, beer, or other supplies used in the event may be donated. In-kind sponsors will receive 2-8 gumbo tasting tickets (which includes live music and one beer or soft drink ticket per admission) and promotion of your business in the event program. In-kind gifts of $500 or greater will receive a VIP Table with 8 seats. In-kind gifts are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

     In-Kind Sponsor Donation (Tickets Given)

    $100 (2)
    $200 (4)
    $300 (6)
    $400 (8)
    $500 (VIP Table)

    Laissez le bon temps rouler!

    For more information or to volunteer for this event, contact Shahin Samiei at [email protected] / 901-491-7127.

    Why should your business or organization sponsor the TEP Gumbo Contest?

    Tennessee Equality Project Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, provides educational projects and programs which advance the well-being of LGBTQ people and their families here at home in Tennessee. Unlike other organizations that advance equality, every dollar contributed to TEP Foundation is spent here in Tennessee.

    A diverse group of over 500 LGBTQ people and their allies attend the TEP Gumbo Contest each year. Attendees receive a program with sponsor ads and information and will see the event sponsor reel on the projection screen during the event. Our PRESENTING sponsor and FLAMING sponsors will be thanked from the main stage during event announcements.  

    Your sponsorship will be advertised through the TEP Gumbo Contest Event web page, Facebook event page and email list (20,000+ contacts). Tennessee Equality Project social media reach extends deeply in the Mid-South and the State of Tennessee:

    Donate

  • Notes from the TN Dept of Health: June and the history of the fight against HIV

    This information in this post was written by and is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

    For people living with, affected by, or working to fight HIV, June is a month of historical and personal significance. June 5, 1981 was the day when the first five cases of what would later be known as AIDS were reported in the United States. Every year on June 5th, people around the world celebrate HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day. On June 27, 1982 the first “safer sex” pamphlet in response to the AIDS epidemic was created by a gay activist group in San Francisco and distributed at the International Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade. June 27th is now recognized as National HIV Testing Day, which is both a day when many people get their annual HIV test and when staff and volunteers gear up to run large outreach and testing events. 

    June is a month when our HIV history and present collide, making it an ideal time to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we are going. This year, the theme for HIV Long Term Survivors’ Day was “What Now?” In four decades, a lot has changed. 

    Treatment for HIV has certainly come a long way. What started as palliative care to make people comfortable with a disease without a name is now treatment that is so effective, people can live with HIV without symptoms and without fear of passing it to another person during sex. 

    “The science is clear. Numerous studies have shown that people living with HIV who take their medications as prescribed and get and keep and undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV.” - Pamela Talley, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis section at Tennessee Department of Health, World AIDS Day 2019 Press Release

    Treatment has evolved significantly, becoming easier to take over time. What was many pills a day in a complicated regimen is now one pill a day for many people. For people new to living with HIV, there is a network of professional case managers, health care providers, and community-based organization staff trained to help arrange medical appointments, assist in the transition to daily medication, and support people in sharing their status with friends and loved ones. 

    Access to treatment has expanded dramatically in the four decades since we first discovered HIV. The Ryan White Care Act was first passed into law in 1990 and has grown significantly since then to include medical care and other services to help people living with HIV achieve and sustain an undetectable viral load for years at a time. Ryan White Part B funds the Insurance Assistance Program, which allows eligible people living with HIV access to medical coverage for their whole health---not just their HIV. Through the Insurance Assistance Program, people living with HIV who qualify for Ryan White can pick from a set of insurance coverage options and then Ryan White will help cover the costs of their premium, copays, and deductible. This allows people living with HIV to access their healthcare the same way other Americans do, supports other aspects of their health, and gives them additional privacy related to their health. For Tennessee residents who receive Ryan White Part B benefits, the special enrollment period for the Insurance Assistance Program runs until August 15th. Click here for more information or ask your Ryan White Part B case manager.   

    As we approach National HIV Testing Day (June 27) we can all celebrate how much has changed when it comes to getting an HIV test. People who want to know their HIV status can find a provider in their area who will give them a no-cost rapid HIV test and support if the result is positive. Many of these providers are now able to give people the choice to either take a rapid test in the office, or to take a test with them to do in the privacy of their own home. While HIV tests used to mean weeks of waiting on a result, rapid tests can now tell a person their HIV status in 20 minutes or less. For those people looking to celebrate National HIV Testing Day with others at an event, signing up for the statewide HIV weekly email and following testing providers on social media are great ways to learn more about upcoming celebrations.

    How we think about HIV has changed dramatically in the four decades since we named it. AIDS was an unknown syndrome, but is now known, screened for, and treated worldwide. HIV was once a death sentence but is now a chronic condition. HIV was an illness people were so afraid of sharing that receiving a diagnosis meant a fundamental life change. It is now a part of a person’s health that does not stop them from starting new relationships, having children, and making future plans. It was once the case that people living with HIV could receive world class treatment for it but still not have access to care for their other health concerns. It is now a health issue that people can manage while getting access to standard health insurance coverage. A person’s HIV status was a question that required searching through providers to make an appointment for a test that would take weeks to yield a result, but is now as easy as signing up for a rapid test at a local agency or picking up a test to take at home. 

    This June as many of us get our vaccines and leave our homes to enjoy Pride events and gatherings with friends and family, we can all take some pride in the part we’ve played in changing what it means to live with HIV in Tennessee. 


  • Notes from the TN Dept of Health: U = U and dismantling stigma

    The following information was written by and is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

    On November 27, 2019, Tennessee Department of Health became one of the first state health departments in the Southern U.S. to join the “Undetectable Equals Untransmittable” (or “U=U”) campaign. The U=U campaign raises awareness about the fact that people living with HIV who stay on treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus through sex and are much less likely to transmit it through needle-sharing. 

    For a person living with HIV, being undetectable means that the amount of HIV virus in their blood is so small that it is “undetectable” to HIV viral load tests. When this happens, the person is incapable of transmitting HIV via sex. This has enormous health benefits for the individual as well. Staying undetectable can help a person living with HIV avoid the health complications from the virus and live a longer, healthier life.

    Getting to undetectable status is a health goal for people living with HIV. To achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, people need consistent access to treatment without fear. The fear that stigma creates can build barriers between medical providers and their clients.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define stigma as “discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation.” This identifiable group of people can be a group of people who all share the experience of living with a health condition. For people living with HIV, stigmatization is a shared fear and, unfortunately, one grounded in reality.

    According to Needs Assessment 2020 Special Study conducted by the Tennessee Community HIV/AIDS Partnership, one out of every three people living with HIV in Tennessee lives with the fear that their HIV status may be discovered by someone living in their community (Tennessee Community HIV/AIDS Partnership. "Needs Assessment Special Study). One in five experienced stigma related to their HIV status while receiving medical services

    In deep dive interviews, people living with HIV in Tennessee reported choosing and staying with one provider and/or avoiding medical treatment altogether to avoid potential HIV stigma. Stories about stigma demonstrated that people living with HIV might be stigmatized because of their HIV status and because of their race, gender, and sexual orientation. 

    One important dimension of stigma is that it provokes a fear response where fear is not needed or helpful. Study respondents described fear from people who lived in their community and from medical professionals in situations where HIV transmission was not possible. This fear made them more likely to limit their own options for treatment and in some cases served as a barrier to treatment itself. 

    In 2021, we understand that treatment is a key cornerstone of prevention. Our state is healthier when everyone living with HIV has easy, uninterrupted access to treatment. Over the years, many barriers to such access have been dismantled in Tennessee; people living with HIV can get treatment even if they are uninsured and cannot afford it through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. To help people get access to HIV treatment early and stay in care, services like transportation, housing, and psychosocial support are in place. Expert case managers are available to help people new to this network of support navigate to the services they need. But even with all of those resources, stigma can make a person living with HIV think twice about taking advantage of them. 

    Ensuring that all Tennesseans, not just people living with HIV, understand that HIV treatment substantially reduces the risk of transmission fights stigma. When people living with HIV take their medications as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load, their efforts benefit their personal health and protect their community. 

    All of us, whether we live with HIV or not, can play a role in dismantling stigma. If you or someone you love is living with HIV, here are some resources you can use to help a person achieve undetectable and untransmittable status:

     

    • Get into care (if you aren’t in care already) by connecting with a Ryan White Medical Case Manager. A case manager can tell you whether or not you qualify for Ryan White services and can answer any questions you have about your diagnosis and your options. Click here to find a case manager near you.

     

    • Get back into care after a lapse, a move, or any other type of care interruption with the help of an Early Intervention Services (EIS) specialist or a Re-engagement specialist. Click here to read more about EIS services in Tennessee or here to connect with a Re-engagement specialist.

     

    • Identify and overcome your barriers to daily medication. Maintaining an undetectable viral load requires people living with HIV to stay on a daily medication regimen. If that is something you haven’t had to do before, it can be challenging. Identify what makes it hard to take your medication daily and share your concerns with your case manager and/or medical provider. Click here to learn more about all of the supportive services Ryan White offers to help people maintain stable access to care. 

     

    • Set up a system of social support. Living with HIV can be challenging, especially if you are living in fear that people will discover your health status. One way to fight this fear is by telling the people in your life about your health. Planning a disclosure can be difficult, but there are lots of professionals and peers in Tennessee that can help. Your Ryan White medical case manager can support you in planning a disclosure. For people new to living with HIV, Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Access to Services (ARTAS) linkage coordinators can help you get into care and plan a first disclosure. Healthy Relationships is a series of workshops for people new to living with HIV that uses a peer model to help people get comfortable and good at talking about their HIV status. Click here for more information about ARTAS and Healthy Relationships.

    HIV stigma has its roots in a time when we didn’t know what HIV was, how it spread, or how to treat it. Stigma alienates people living with HIV and is often part of a person’s thought process when considering care. No one should be afraid to do something good for their health, especially when it will also benefit their community. We all have a role to play in eliminating HIV stigma in our communities. Spread the word about U=U, bring up HIV and educate your friends and family, and spread the word about all of the resources people living with HIV in Tennessee have to maintain their health.

     


  • Contact Governor Lee as dangerous anti-trans bills head to his desk

    As of May 18, Governor Lee has now signed all three of these anti-trans bills, in addition to his earlier signing of the anti-trans student athlete bill and the bill that allows parents to opt their children out of sexual orientation/gender identity curriculum in public schools.

    HB1233 is an anti-transgender student bathroom bill that offers trans students separate and unequal accommodations in our public schools. Tennessee could be the only state this year to enact a bathroom bill this year. (signed into law)

    HB1182 is the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate bill that applies to businesses and organizations that have a trans-inclusive policy for multi-person restrooms. The bill requires them to put up a demeaning sign about biological sex. It could lead to increased policing of trans people in restrooms and aggression towards trans-inclusive businesses. (signed into law)

    SB126 is a bill that puts into the Tennessee Code standards for gender-affirming care for trans youth. Why is that a bad idea? It is discriminatory because we don’t normally put standards of care into the law and if the standard of care changes based on research, we shouldn’t have to amend the law. It could also invite more restrictive amendments in future legislative sessions. (signed into law)

    Contact Governor Lee today at 615-741-2001 and let him know your views on anti-transgender legislation.

    Email Option:  You can also send him an email through his contact form at https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html .

     


  • published Take action on bills moving week of May 3 in Blog 2021-04-29 21:37:10 -0500

    Take action on bills moving week of May 3

    Make your voice heard on bills moving the week of May 3 as the Legislature prepares to adjourn.

    May 3

    *HB1027, the bill regulating gender-affirming care for transgender youth, is on the House floor Monday evening.

    -Use this easy form to contact your member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.  If you have already sent your message, share the link with friends.

    -If you want to compose a personal email or voice mail for your state representative, but don't know who that is, be in touch at [email protected] any time before Monday at 10 a.m. Central Time.  We will help you with your message and with the contact information.  Put your street address and Zip code in the email. 

    Near Future

    -Calls to the Governor:  Several bills are heading to the Governor or on his desk.  Call Governor Lee at 615-741-2001, leave a message asking him to veto SB1229/HB529 (parent opt-out bill), SB1367/HB1223 (anti-trans student bathroom bill), and SB1224/HB1182 (anti-trans bathroom sign mandate bill).

    -Letters to the Editor:  If you want to write a letter to the editor of your local paper (especially outside Nashville), and you need some guidance, reach out any time at [email protected] and let us know the name of your newspaper. We could use some letters urging the Governor to veto these bills. This weekend is a great time to start.


  • Take action on discriminatory bills moving week of April 26

    Discriminatory bills continue to advance. Take action and fight back with the steps below.

    *If you want to have a phone meeting with your state senator and/or your state representative the week of April 26, contact us at [email protected] and we will help you get it set up and prepare you with an issue brief.

    April 26

    EVENTQuick Zoom Phone Bank on the Bad Bills

    April 26 or April 27

    *HB1027, the bill regulating gender-affirming care for trans youth, is up for a vote in House Government Operations Committee. Note: The information on the bill's page on the Legislature's web site says that it is up for a vote on April 27, but the House Government Operations Committee meeting is listed for April 26.  UPDATE:  The Government Operations Committee did approve the bill on April 26 and it is headed to the House floor soon.

    -Use this easy form to contact your member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

    Indefinite Date

    *SB1224, the anti-transgender sign mandate bill, will be on the Senate floor soon.

     -Use this easy form to send an email to your state senator and urge them to vote NO.

    Note: There are additional bills that could be added to the calendar. If they are put on the calendar, we will add more campaigns.


  • Take action on dangerous bills moving the week of April 19

    More damaging bills are getting closer to passing. Take action on these bills moving the week of April 19.

    Remember that the parent opt-out bill is heading to the Governor for his signature, so call him. Tell Governor Lee Veto SB1229/HB529 Parent Opt-out bill for LGBTQ curriculum at 615-741-2001.

    Monday, April 19

    Event:  Zoom phone bank against discriminatory bills at 6 p.m. Central Time.

    *SB1367/HB1233, the anti-transgender student bathroom 2.0 bill, is up for floor votes in the Senate and House.

    -Use this easy form to send an email to your own state senator and state representative. Feel free to add your own message.

    Tuesday, April 20 (possibly Wednesday, April 21)

    *SB1224, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate, is back in Senate Judiciary Committee.

    -Use this easy form to send an email to all the committee members. Feel free to add your own message.

    -Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the scripts and office numbers at this link.

    Indefinite Date

    *HB1027, the caption bill amended to regulate gender-affirming care for trans youth, will be up for a vote in the House Government Operations Committee soon.

    -Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the scripts and office numbers at this link.


  • published Help us fight these bills the week of April 12 in Blog 2021-04-08 11:16:26 -0500

    Help us fight these bills the week of April 12

    Note:  If you clicked on this link from the Times News Editorial, go to the new campaigns for the week of April 19 at https://www.tnep.org/take_action_on_dangerous_bills_moving_the_week_of_april_19 .  You can call Governor Lee and urge him to veto SB1229/HB529 by calling him at 615-741-2001 .

    2021 has been the toughest legislative session in years. The week of April 12 is no departure as discriminatory bills continue their advance. Take action and fight back using the campaigns and events below.

    If you are available to meet by phone or Zoom with your state senator and/or state representative in the next two weeks, be in touch at [email protected] and we will get you information to prepare you.

    Monday, April 12

    *EVENT: GLSEN TN phone bank

    Tuesday, April 13

    *SB1224, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate bill, is up in Senate Judiciary Committee.

    -Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Use this easy form to send a message to the committee and consider including your own message.

    *HB1233, anti-transgender student bathroom bill 2.0, is up in House Finance Committee. The Senate companion bill has been delayed on the Senate floor and has been reset for April 19.

    Wednesday, April 14

    *EVENT: GLSEN TN's "Show Up for Trans Youth at Cordell Hull"

    *HB578 and HB1027, bills attacking gender-affirming care for trans youth, are up in the House Health Committee.

    -Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Use this easy form to send a message to the committee and consider including your own message.

    *HB529, the parent opt-out bill for sexual orientation/gender identity curriculum, is on the House floor.

    -Use this easy form to send a message to your member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

     


  • Discriminatory bills rapidly advancing week of April 5

    More discriminatory bills are getting dangerously close to passing. Take action on these bills moving the week of April 5.

    Monday, April 5

    *SB1229, the sexual orientation/gender identity curriculum opt-out bill, and SB1367, the anti-transgender school bathroom bill 2.0, are on the Senate floor.

    -Use this easy form to contact your state senator. Consider including a short video message.

    -EVENT: Call Out Discrimination Zoom phone bank at 6:00 p.m. Central Time.

    Tuesday, April 6

    *HB1027, the caption bill regulating gender-affirming care for trans youth, is back in the House Health Subcommittee.

    -Make calls to the members of the subcommittee using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Use the new email campaign under HB578 with Wednesday's action steps. It is a combined campaign that includes HB1027.

    *SB1224, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate, is up in Senate Judiciary.

    -Make calls to the members of the committee using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Take action with this easy email campaign. Add your own written or video message.

    Wednesday, April 7

    *HB578, the bill attacking gender-affirming care for trans youth, is up in the House Health Committee.

    -Make calls to the members of the committee using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Take action with this easy email campaign. Add your own written or video message.

    *HB800, the bill banning LGBTQ content in school textbooks and instructional materials, is up in House Education Instruction Committee.

    -Use this easy email campaign for HB800 and the two bills below. It will go to members of Senate Education Committee and House Education Instruction Committee. Add your own written or video message.

    *SB659/HB1535, a bill that would ban supplemental curriculum materials not approved by the state, is up in Senate Education and House Education Instruction Committees.

    -Make calls to the members of the House Education Instruction Committee on HB800 and HB1535 using the numbers and script at the link.

    -Make calls to the members of the Senate Education Committee on SB659 using the numbers and script at the link.

    -See the email campaign above for HB800.

    Thursday, April 8

    *SB126, another anti-trans youth health care bill, is on the Senate floor.

    -Take action with this new, easy campaign to contact your own state senator.


  • Take action on bills moving the week of March 29

    Many dangerous bills are still moving through the Legislature during the week of March 29. Here are some ways you can take action.

    Monday, March 29

    *HB1182, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate, is on the House floor.

    -Take action by using this form to send a message to your member of the TN House. You can add a video message.

    *EVENT:  Kill the killer bills phone bank at 6:30 p.m. Central Time with GLSEN TN.

    Tuesday, March 30

    *HB800, the bill banning LGBTQ content in school textbooks and instructional materials, is up for a vote in the House Education Instruction Subcommittee.

    -Email the members of the Education Instruction Committee about this bill and HB529 using the easy form.

    -Call the members of the subcommittee and urge them to vote NO with the scripts and numbers at this link.

    *HB1027, the caption bill that could be amended to regulate gender-affirming care for trans youth, is up in the House Health Subcommittee.

    -Make calls to the members of the House Health Subcommittee on the bill with the script and numbers.

    -Use this easy form to send an email to the members of the House Health Subcommittee and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

    *EVENT:  TEP Rutherford County Zoom meeting at 6:30 p.m. Central Time.

    Wednesday, March 31

    *HB529, the sexual orientation/gender identity curriculum opt out bill, is up for a vote in the House Education Instruction Committee.

    -Call the members of the committee using the scripts and numbers at the link.

    -See the email form under HB800 on March 30 for the email campaign on this bill. It is a combined campaign.

    *SB126, the caption bill that could be amended to regulate gender-affirming care for trans youth, is up in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

    -Make calls to the members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee using the numbers and scripts.

    -See above under March 30 for the email campaign that sends an email to the House and Senate committees on the bill.


  • published Take action the week of March 22 in Blog 2021-03-17 18:56:56 -0500

    Take action the week of March 22

    A record for discriminatory bills moving the week of March 22! Here are ways you can take action.

    MARCH 22

    *SB228/HB3, the anti-transgender student athlete bill, is up for a vote on the House floor.

    -Use this form to send a message to your member of the Tennessee House about the bill.

    -Online Event:  Call Out Discrimination Zoom Phone Bank at 6:00 p.m. Central Time.

    MARCH 23

    *HB1027 is a caption bill that would likely carry language regulating gender-affirming care for transgender youth. It is on notice in the House Health Subcommittee.

    -Make calls on HB1027 with the scripts and phones numbers at this link.

    -Use this easy form to email the House Health Subcommittee and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

    *HB1182, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate, is BACK ON NOTICE after being taken off notice. It is up for a vote in the House State Government Committee.

    -Use the email campaign at this link if you have not already done so.

    -If you would like to leave messages for the members of the State Government Committee, find the script with phone numbers here.

    *HB800 would ban LGBTQ content from the public school curriculum.  HB529 would require schools to let parents opt their students out of sexual orientation/gender identity curricula in public schools. Both bills are up for consideration in the House Education Instruction Subcommittee.

    -Make calls on HB800 and a related bill, HB529, with the script and phone numbers at this link.

    -Use this easy form to send emails to the subcommittee. Feel free to add your own message in the blank space.

    -Online Event:  People's Preview of the State presented by Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. 6:00 p.m. Central Time.

    MARCH 24

    *HB578, the bill attacking gender-affirming care is up for a vote in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

    -If you would like to leave phone messages with the members of the committee, find the scripts and phone numbers here.

    -Email the members of the committee using the easy form at this link.

    *SB126 is a caption bill that would likely carry language regulating gender-affirming care for transgender youth, is on notice in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

    -Make calls to the members of the committee using the phone numbers and scripts at the link.

    -The email campaign for this bill is combined with the March 23 campaign on the companion bill up in the House Health Subcommittee. See above.

    *SB1229, the bill that would let parents opt their students out of sexual orientation/gender identity curricula in public schools, is up for a vote in the Senate Education Committee.  SB1367, which is an anti-transgender student bathroom bill 2.0 is up in the same committee on the same date.

    -Make calls to the members of the committee using the phone numbers and scripts at this link.

    -Use this easy form to email the Senate Education Committee on both bills. Add your own message in the blank space.

    -Online Event:  TEP Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties virtual meeting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    -Online Event:  TEP Shelby County virtual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Central Time.

    MARCH 25

    -Virtual Event:  TEP Tri-Cities virtual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.


  • published Attacks escalating week of March 15 in Blog 2021-03-11 23:37:13 -0600

    Attacks escalating week of March 15

    More anti-LGBTQ bills are moving the week of March 15. We urge you to take action by participating in the March 15 phone bank and using the email campaigns listed below. Be sure to use the blank space in each email campaign to add your own personalized short message. 

    Monday, March 15

    *Zoom phonebanking event against the bills below at 6:30 p.m. Central Time:  https://www.facebook.com/events/160316425916433/ 

    Tuesday, March 16

    *SB1124/HB1182, bathroom sign mandate, up in House State Government Committee. GOOD NEWS! The bill was taken OFF NOTICE on March 16.

    Wednesday, March 17

    *SB657/HB578, attacking gender-affirming care for trans youth, up in House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. The bill passed the subcommittee. There will be an amendment removing criminal penalties in the full committee, but no version of this bill is acceptable.

    *SB193/HB372, diversity training opt out bill, in House Public Service Subcommittee. Taken off notice on March 17.

    *SB1367/HB1233, Bathroom Bill 2.0, up in House Education Administration Committee

    -Email campaign:  https://ujoin.co/campaigns/1205/actions/public/1615525540?action_id=1274  

    -If you want to leave phone messages for the members of the committee, find the scripts and phone numbers at this link.

    Thursday, March 18

    *SB228/HB3, anti-trans student athlete bill, on the House floor.

    -Email campaign on the bill:  https://ujoin.co/campaigns/1209/actions/public/1615478903?action_id=1251 


  • published High Alert for the Week of March 8 in Blog 2021-03-07 12:58:11 -0600

    High Alert for the Week of March 8

    Discriminatory legislation is moving fast the week of March 8. We have listed each bill below and what you can do. But before we list the specific tasks for each bill, here are a couple of extraordinary steps you can take:

    1. Do you want to have a virtual meeting with your legislators to discuss these bills? Here's how to set one up. If you give us a day's notice before your meeting, we may be able to help brief you. Email us at [email protected] for more details.

    2. Do you want to help with media calls this week? Reporters around the state may contact us for comment on different bills. Particularly if you are trans or nonbinary and want to talk to the media about these bills, let us know at [email protected]  Include your city of residence when you send your email. Note: If you volunteer for this responsibility, you should be prepared to respond to media calls the same day you get the request.

    The bills moving this week and action campaigns:

    *SB228/HB3, the anti-transgender student athlete bill, has passed the Senate and could  be up for a floor vote at any time. Use this easy form to contact your member of the Tennessee House and add your own message in the blank space.

    *SB1367/HB1233, which is a bill that requires schools to make accommodations for students who don't want to share restroom/locker room space with transgender students, is up for a subcommittee vote on March 9. Email the subcommittee with this link and add your own message in the blank space. Make calls or leave messages for some of the members of the subcommittee using the script and numbers at this link.

    *SB657/HB578 attacks gender-affirming care for transgender youth and is up for a vote on March 10. Email the subcommittee at this link if you have not already done so. Make calls or leave messages with the script and phone numbers at this link.

    *SB1224/HB1182 is a bill that requires businesses and public buildings with transgender-inclusive restrooms to post signs that say: "THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM." These signs will endanger transgender people and could lead to aggression against trans-inclusive businesses.  Call or leave messages with the subcommittee using the script and phone numbers at this link.  Email the subcommittee members with this easy form and add your own message in the blank space.

     


  • Boro Pride 2021 Sponsors and Vendors--Sold out!

    Update: We are pleased to announce that all spaces have been sold! We are no longer taking payments for the festival. Thank you to all sponsors and vendors of BoroPride 2021!

    We are pleased to announce that Boro Pride returns on August 21 this year.  Please, find the various sponsorship and vendor levels and benefits in the graphic below. When you have selected your level, use the form at the left to make your payment.

    Vendors and attendees must adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. By making your payment, you agree to follow the guidelines that will be provided to you prior to the event. Vendors will be notified of the guidelines in follow-up communication.

    If you wish to pay by check, you may do so by making the check payable to "TEP Foundation" and putting "Boro Pride" in the memo line. Mail checks to P.O. Box 330895 Nashville, TN 37203. Please, let us know that you are sending a check by emailing us at [email protected] so that we can reserve your spot.  Note: The word "donation" may appear on this page or in your receipt. It refers to your payment for your sponsorship or vendor space. 

    BoroPride2021.jpg

    Donate

  • published Emerging Tennessee Slate of Hate for 2021 in Blog 2021-01-28 13:02:43 -0600

    Emerging Tennessee Slate of Hate for 2021

    This is the current shape of the #SlateOfHate in Tennessee.

    SB228/HB3 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Cepicky: This bill repeats the effort to prevent transgender students from participating in high school and middle school sports. It ties a student's gender to the original birth certificate.  The "whereas" clauses attempt to pit transgender people against women's sports.  Governor Lee signed the bill after it passed both legislative chambers.

    SB562/HB233 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Leatherwood: This bill appears to be a caption bill that would eventually carry explicitly anti-marriage equality language. It pertains to marriage licensing and definitions.  The bill has not moved this session.

    SB193/HB372 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Casada:  This bill allows employees of state or local government (which also includes public universities and colleges) to skip trainings or seminars that conflict with their values or religious beliefs.  We believe that the bill provides a way of undermining LGBTQ-inclusive training sessions and seminars offered by government entities. Taken off notice on March 17.

    SB1229/HB529 by Sen. Rose and Rep. Moody:  This bill would require public schools to notify parents before offering any curriculum about sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill allows parents to opt their children out of such instruction. Governor Lee signed the bill into law.

    SB657/HB578 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan: This bill criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Passed House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 17. It will be amended in the full committee to remove the criminal penalties, but no version of this bill is acceptable. Moving in House committees. The bill has not moved in the Senate and will be up in the House Health Committee on April 14.

    SB1216/HB800 by Sen. Niceley and Rep. Griffey: This bill censors LGBTQ content in public school textbooks and instructional materials. It's an updated version of the old "Don't Say Gay" bill. The bill passed the House Education Instruction Committee on April 7 and is headed to House Finance. It is said that it will not move in the Senate this year. 

    SB1238/HB1177 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton: This legislation is an anti-transgender "bathroom" bill. The bill has not moved this year.

    SB1367/HB1233 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Zachary:  Anti-transgender student bathroom bill 2.0.  Governor Lee signed the bill into law.

    SB1224/HB1182 by Sen. Rose and Rep. Rudd: This will requires businesses that have transgender-inclusive restrooms to post signs saying, "THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM." That will make restrooms less safe for transgender people and it will lead to aggression against inclusive businesses.  Passed House State Government Committee with some minor amendments on March 23. Governor Lee signed the bill into law.

    SB126/HB1027 by Sen. Haile and Rep. Kumar:  This is a caption bill that will likely carry language regulating gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Moving in Senate and House committees.  Governor Lee signed the bill into law.

    SB659/HB1535 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Weaver:  This bill is a wide-ranging effort to prevent supplemental materials from being used in public school curricula. One effect would be to inhibit LGBTQ-inclusive materials.  The bill is heading to the House floor, but it won't be heard in the Senate Education Committee until next year.

    SB1208 by Sen. Pody:  "As introduced, prohibits this state and any political subdivision of this state, or any official of this state or a political subdivision, from creating, enforcing, or endorsing policies that respect or promote non-secular self-asserted sex-based identity narratives, sexual orientation orthodoxy, or non-secular marriage doctrine because the policies fail the Lemon test, as established by the United States Supreme Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)." Note: There is no House sponsor at this time.

    If you would like to support our work of tracking legislation affecting the LGBTQ community, you can make a contribution at this link.

     


  • Notes from the TN Dept of Health: Learn about PrEP and PEP

    The following information was written by and is presented in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

    World AIDS Day was Dec 1, a day when we remember lives lost to this global pandemic and acknowledge the many lives which continue to be affected by HIV.  Thankfully, in recent years we have much to be grateful for when considering options for HIV prevention.  In addition to external and internal condoms (www.freecondomstn.org), we now have biomedical HIV prevention options which include PrEP, an antiretroviral medication which reduces the chance of contracting HIV by 99% when taken as prescribed, and PEP, a 28-day antiretroviral treatment for people who may have been exposed to HIV within the previous 72 hours.  Below you will find the answers to several important questions about these HIV prevention options.

    PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)

    Who could benefit from taking PrEP?  Anyone who does not have HIV and who may be likely to encounter HIV.  This could be someone who is sexually active and doesn’t use condoms consistently or is not in a mutually monogamous relationship (i.e. both partners only have sex with each other, and no one else), someone whose partner is living with HIV, or someone who shares injection equipment with other people when using drugs or silicone, as well as anyone who feels that PrEP will allow them to take more control of their sexual health and reduce their anxiety about HIV.

    How does PrEP work? When HIV enters the body, it attacks our immune system through our CD4 T cells, using those cells to make more copies of the virus.  PrEP stops the virus from making copies of itself inside the CD4 T cells, preventing HIV from taking hold and stopping it from reproducing.  

    How do I take PrEP? PrEP is currently approved by the FDA as a once-daily pill.  It should be taken about the same time of day, every day, and can be taken with or without food.

    Is PrEP safe?  Yes! The medications used for PrEP have been around for 20 years as antiretrovirals used to treat people living with HIV, so we have many years of data to tell us about how PrEP affects our bodies.  A very small fraction of patients may have a decrease in kidney function or an increase in bone density loss, but both side effects are reversible when PrEP is stopped.  Your doctor will monitor kidney function through labs and determine if monitoring is needed for bone density, as well.

    Which medicines can be used for PrEP?  The first PrEP regimen approved by the FDA was Truvada, in 2012, followed by Descovy, in 2019.  While both daily medications work extremely well, there are some differences between the two.  First, Truvada is approved for use in cisgender and transgender individuals of all genders, while Descovy is currently only approved for use as PrEP in people assigned male at birth.  (Studies are under way to expand approval to include people having receptive vaginal sex.)  Second, while Truvada should only be used by people with normal kidney function, Descovy may be used by some people with decreased kidney function.  Additionally, as of this fall, a generic version of Truvada is also available.  Finally, recent studies have shown a long-acting injectable medication, Cabotegravir, to be another highly effective option which may soon be available for use as PrEP.

    Does PrEP have side effects?  As with any medication, some people experience mild side effects when they first start taking PrEP, often called “start-up syndrome.”  These can include nausea, dizziness, lack of appetite and headache.  Only about 20% of patients will have any side effects, and they usually stop within two weeks to a month after beginning PrEP.  

    Is PrEP safe to use with gender-affirming hormones?  Yes!  Although there is limited research on trans folks who use PrEP and gender-affirming hormones, what data that does exist indicates that PrEP does not affect hormones for either trans men or trans women, and hormones do not significantly affect PrEP, either.

    What do I have to do to get PrEP?  In order to get PrEP, you’ll need to see a provider, either in person or virtually, for an initial visit and follow-up appointments every 3 months.  At those appointments you’ll also do important lab work, including HIV and STI (sexually transmitted infections), kidney function (creatinine), pregnancy (if applicable), and every six months to one year, Hepatitis B and C testing (depending on need).

    Once I start PrEP, do I have to stay on it forever? No way!  PrEP is a medication intended to be used when you need it and stopped when you don’t.  We like to think about “seasons of pleasure,” when you may have more sexual or drug use encounters in which you could be exposed to HIV.  During these times you may choose to use PrEP to protect yourself from HIV.  If your likelihood of being exposed to HIV changes, you may choose to stop using PrEP.  However, it is important to remember to discuss stopping PrEP with your provider and before starting it again, even if you already have your prescription filled.  This is because you’ll need new labs drawn to be sure it’s still safe for you to take PrEP.  

    Also, keep in mind that it takes 7 days for PrEP to reach maximum efficacy for anal sex and 21 days to reach maximum efficacy for vaginal sex or blood exchange, so if you have a short window of time when you think you don’t need PrEP, consider continuing to use it so that you’re protected when you need it down the road!

    PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)

    When should I seek PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)? PEP should be used in cases when there is a strong likelihood that someone who does not have HIV has been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, which could include not knowing the HIV status of a sex partner with whom you had condomless sex (anal or penile-vaginal), having condomless sex with someone who is living with HIV and who is not virally suppressed (undetectable), or sharing syringes or other works with someone with whom you used drugs or injected silicone, and whose HIV status you do not know, or who is living with HIV.  PEP is for emergency situations and not a substitute for regular use of HIV prevention methods such as using condoms, taking PrEP or not sharing needles or works.  

    How do I take PEP? PEP is usually prescribed as a combination of three antiretroviral medications, taken once or twice daily for 28 days.  There are several different combinations of medications which can be used for PEP, depending on the patient’s needs.

    How does PEP work? PEP works by preventing HIV from replicating in the body after a recent exposure. 

    Is PEP safe? Yes! PEP regimens consist of several anti-retroviral medications which have been used to treat people living with HIV for many years, so we have a lot of data on how these medicines affect the body.  There is more than one PEP regimen, so your doctor will have options to consider if you have a specific medical concern.

    Does PEP have side effects? Some people experience side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, nausea, flatulence, and headache, although most side effects go away or become manageable within a few days or weeks.  Some of these side effects can be managed with over the counter or prescription medications, as well.  

    PrEP and PEP Access

    How do I get PrEP or PEP in Tennessee? Many, but not all healthcare providers in Tennessee will prescribe PrEP and PEP.  First go to www.GetPrEPTN.com to learn more about PrEP and PEP, then find a navigator to help you walk through the process and to find a doctor to prescribe the medication.  This website is available in Spanish, as well.

    How much do PrEP and PEP cost? You may have heard that PrEP and PEP are expensive.  Thankfully there are a number of programs that can help to pay for prescriptions or prescription copays, and some even cover labs and appointment fees.  Don’t know where to start?  Don’t worry!  Our navigators are trained to help you find the right program, fill out the paperwork, and make sure that PrEP or PEP is accessible to anyone who needs it!  You can find a navigator here: https://getpreptn.com/get-prep/.  Even if you don’t live nearby, navigators can help you remotely via phone, text, or video chat- whatever works for you!

    For more information about PrEP and PEP, check out the following resources:

    www.getpreptn.com 

    https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html

    https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/pep.html

    www.whatisprep.org 


  • Marisa Richmond Public Policy Fellowship Application

    We are pleased to release the application for the Marisa Richmond Public Policy Fellowship at this link.

    The Marisa Richmond Public Policy Fellowship is a program for Black transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary undergraduate students enrolled in an accredited Tennessee college or university who are interested in public policy advocacy. The fellowship honors the federal, state, and local advocacy of Dr. Marisa Richmond in the areas of racial justice and LGBTQ rights.

    Three applicants will be selected for the Spring 2021 fellowship, ideally one from East Tennessee, one from West Tennessee, and one from Middle Tennessee depending on the geographic diversity of the application pool.

    Fellowship recipients will receive a $1000 stipend and participate in Zoom/conference call discussions with leading advocates to explore key issues in public policy and build their network. The program will go from mid-January through March to coincide with the state legislative session. There are no project or work requirements so that students can focus on their academic requirements and self-care.

    APPLICATIONS ARE DUE ON DECEMBER 11 BY 8:00 P.M. EASTERN TIME/7:00 P.M. CENTRAL TIME. Submit your answers through this Google form. Questions should be directed to [email protected]. The fellowship is a program of the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation.


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