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GMHC Commemorates National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Agency calls for more awareness of mental health and substance issues among gay men--and their effects on the AIDS epidemic
9.26.2018
New York, NY (September 27, 2018)–This National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) calls on the public health community to focus more attention on mental health and substance use issues faced by gay men living with or at risk of HIV infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay and bisexual men have a greater risk of mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts, largely due to homophobia, stigma, discrimination, poverty, racism, and other factors, and that these issues are often accompanied by substance use. Through the work of GMHC and other HIV/AIDS service organizations, we also know that mental health and substance use issues are key drivers of the AIDS epidemic, and that a person's HIV-positive status can often exacerbate these kinds of issues.
It is imperative that health care providers focus on the mental health of gay men--not just their physical and sexual health--and understand the social determinants that place them at higher risk of either contracting of worsening HIV infection. We won't end the AIDS epidemic without this kind of holistic approach.
Studies have shown that gay men can be hesitant to go to health care providers because of imagined or realized stigma about their sexual orientation. There are also limited resources specializing in gay men's health and the health of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming people, as well.
From the very beginning, GMHC has provided mental health and substance use services, which have now evolved into two state-licensed clinics that are co-located in our offices. GMHC's Substance Use Clinic and Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic provide safe and nonjudgmental services for anyone who needs them, including gay men. The staff understand the distinct needs and complexities of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and identities. GMHC will continue to advocate the importance of affirming and inclusive health care providers who have knowledge about and experience in working with LGBT and gender non-conforming people.

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Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 13,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.