NASTAD Gay Men's Health Equity Newsletter

By Nicole Elinoff June 23, 2020

A great deal has occurred since the February installment of GMHE newsletter. The novel coronavirus COVID-19 evolved into a global pandemic; continued violence towards Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) persisted; and through it all, the work geared towards ending the HIV and hepatitis epidemics persevered. NASTAD acknowledges the myriad challenges to individuals’ day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, stress of the unknown, and overall fatigue. NASTAD sees you, and we THANK YOU for your continued engagement, feedback, and support.


Happy Pride Month!

Each June, communities across the world celebrate Pride Month by commemorating the Stonewall riots of 1969, continuing to fight for civil rights for LGBTQIA individuals, and celebrating the diverse beauty within the community. Send us photos of ways you and your health department celebrated Pride Month!

Accountability as a Public Health Response

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on communities of color in the U.S., particularly on Black, Native American, and Latinx communities, NASTAD released a statement and call to action, Accountability as a Public Health Response: COVID-19’s Impact on Communities of Color. Though this statement is specific to COVID-19 within communities of color, we must also acknowledge and take action against the police violence and racism targeting people of color. Experiencing rampant racism while simply existing (going for a run, sleeping, driving, birdwatching) is a public health issue. NASTAD is thinking of and centering public health professionals of color who are at the front lines of the COVID-19 response while also experiencing dehumanizing patterns of racist violence.

NASTAD is firmly committed to supporting health departments navigate accountability measures in public health responses to address the root causes of health inequities. Please contact Rosy Galván with any questions about the statement and call to action, request technical assistance, or share resources.

NASTAD’s Commitment to Black Lives

NASTAD’s mission includes an unwavering commitment to social justice. We recognize that we will not end the HIV and hepatitis epidemics and related syndemics without dismantling the systems of oppression that fuel racial disparities in access and outcomes. In light of the violent racist killing of George Floyd and the recent protests against police brutality, NASTAD released a statement and call to action. This statement identifies the injustices Black people face in America and calls for political leaders to take accountability for the violent racist acts perpetuated by police. It also encourages individuals to get involved in fighting against racism and fighting for equity. NASTAD is firmly committed to supporting, centering, and prioritizing Black lives.

An excerpt from the statement reads: “As a public health organization, NASTAD will actively work to dismantle systems of racism, discrimination, prejudice, health inequity, and stigma. We will continue to focus our work on addressing social determinants of health; we will continue to call on Congress to invest in public health infrastructure and ensure and expand safety nets; and we will continue to fight for accessible and equitable health care, housing, education, and employment. The urgency of immediate action and the need to center anti-racism efforts in our public health responses is highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately impacting Black lives, with mortality rates for Black people 2.7 times higher than for white people. It is imperative that we prioritize the lives, health, and well-being of Black people and other people of color.

To access the full statement, please visit Black Lives Matter [].

HHS Rolls Back 1557 Non-Discrimination Protections 

On June 12, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized its revisions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 1557 regulation, making sweeping changes that eliminate important protections across healthcare access and insurance. With cruel precision, the rule removes requirements for healthcare providers to provide access to services for LGBTQ populations and severely limits requirements for plans to provide non-discriminatory benefit plan designs. NASTAD released a statement denouncing the roll back of non-Discrimination protections. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging the Administration’s decision to roll back the 1557 protections. Please contact Mike Weir for more information. 

Supreme Court Rules on LGBT Workplace Discrimination 

On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for LGBT equality a stunning victory. The vote was six to three, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Please contact Mike Weir for more information.

In Memoriam

Honor them with Action: NASTAD Remembers the Pulse 49

Comrades and Friends Remember Gay AIDS Activist & Writer Larry Kramer

HRC Mourns the Loss of Dr. Ron Simmons, LGBTQ Academic, Advocate & Public Health Leader

NASTAD’s Associate Director of Health Care Access, Bianca Ward, shares her experience working with Dr. Simmons.

“Dr. Simmons was an icon, a visionary, and a mentor. He was unapologetic about his passion for the Black LGTBQ community and until the end of his life worked hard to ensure that young Black gay men knew their value and their beauty. Having had the pleasure and privilege of working at Us Helping Us under Ron’s leadership for almost 12 years, he pushed his staff to be forward-thinking and “cutting edge” in our approach to HIV care and prevention within the Black community. Whether it was bringing HIV testing and education to barbershops and beauty salons or paying tribute to Black mothers with songs and adoration annually at the Lincoln Theatre, Ron encouraged us to not only have pride in ourselves, but in our people. And like a proud parent, he prepared us to eventually go on and do great things.

Even as I write this, Frankie Knuckles’ “The House Music Anthem” is playing in the background and I can feel and see Ron in a beautiful dashiki in heaven dancing fiercely. I am honored to have known him, learned from him and laughed with him.

Rest in POWER Dr. Simmons.”


Webinar Series: Effectively Engaging Community in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Process Through Digital Technology

In collaboration with Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), NASTAD will host a three-part webinar series titled “Effectively Engaging Community in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Process Through Digital Technology.” The first webinar kicks off on June 25. Please register here for the series. For additional questions or to learn more about the series, please contact Kristina Santana.

Take Me Home: Self Testing Program

NASTAD is collaborating with Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC) to support a national mailed HIV testing program called Take Me Home that distributes city, county, or state health department-purchased OraSure Technologies’ HIV self-testing kits to persons at risk for HIV infection with structural barriers to testing in clinical settings, and have not been tested for HIV within the past 12 months. Take Me Home has been designed reach at-risk persons residing in ZIP codes within participating health department jurisdictions via geosocial networking and online dating applications. Please contact Natalie Cramer for more information.


NASTAD continues to closely monitor the rapidly evolving public health responses to mitigate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the U.S. We are committed to providing NASTAD members with information to help ensure the continuity of essential programming and the protection of people living with and vulnerable to HIV infection and viral hepatitis. Please find resources below to aid in information dissemination.

NASTAD | COVID-19 Updates and Resources

NASTAD | Science vs. Stigma: U.S. Food & Drug Administration Blood Donation Policy During COVID-19

The Body | What You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus and HIV

Fenway Health | Coronavirus, COVID-19, and Considerations for People Living with HIV and LGBTQIA+ People

NIH | Characterizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Men Who Have Sex with Men Across the United States in April, 2020

CDC | COVID-19 and HIV

National HIV Testing Day
June 27
National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) will look different this year as communities practice social distancing measures. How are you recognizing this day? We’d like to spotlight your innovation! Send us photos of ways you and your health department honored #HIVTestingDay #NHTD2020.

International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020)
International AIDS Society
July 6-10, 2020 (Virtual)

National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment (NRWC)
August 11-14, 2020 (Virtual)

The National Conference on HIV, HCV, STDs & LGBT Health (SYNChronicity 2020)
September 8-11, 2020 (Virtual)

United States Conference on HIV/AIDS (USCHA)
October 21-23, 2020 (Virtual)
Registration is free for the first 4,000 community/non-profit registrants.

To contribute content to future newsletters, please email Maegan Samuel