Check out this uplifting video on sports and LGBTQ folks.

Happy Friday!

This article offers pictures and a brief review of these children’s books.  Do you all think that some of the content is off target or certain aspects are missing?

More good news - thanks for the tweet GLSEN!

More good news - thanks for the tweet GLSEN!

It’s that time of the year again!! 

Time to get out, have some fun, and, most importantly, show your pride for the LGBTQ community! Check out our new video portraying Chicago’s 2014 pride.

This year we asked folks how they make an IMPACT on the community (who doesn’t love a little word play?).  People feel and express pride in different ways, and this question helped illustrate that.

Folks were joyous and offered some great responses – I make an IMPACT by:

“Spreading kindness”
“Being out and PROUD!!”
“Loving our friends, no matter what.”
“Making sure there is a Gay Straight Alliance in every Illinois school”

It was amazing to see everyone being proud and letting us know how they make an impact on the community!!

Until next year, stay awesome and proud.

"If we want to end internalized homophobia, we need to first end homophobia," she says. "It’s as simple as that."

~ Dr. Birkett

Be in the know regarding sexual health - including what you can do after engaging in risky sex.
What is PEP?
PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. PEP is a medicine taken by people who may have been exposed to HIV during a single event (like unprotected sex or needle-sharing) to reduce the chances of becoming HIV positive. PEP consists of 2-3 antiretroviral medications that can help stop HIV from spreading in your body. To be effective, PEP must be taken as soon as possible, but no more than 72 hours (3 days) after being exposed to HIV. In addition, the pills must be taken daily for 28 days.
It is important to know that PEP is not 100% effective – it does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not become infected with the disease. PEP is different than PrEP. If you are continually exposed to HIV (by engaging in risky sex behaviors or injection drug use), then you should talk to your doctor about takingPrEP.
Credit: AIDS.gov

Is PEP right for me?
PEP can be taken by anyone who may have been exposed to HIV during a single event. Sometimes healthcare workers take PEP after being exposed to blood or body fluids that may contain HIV. It can also be taken by individuals after having unprotected sex, sharing a needle for injection drug use, or following a sexual assault.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, visit your health care provider immediately to determine if PEP is right for you.
Keep in mind that PEP is not a substitute for regular, proven HIV prevention methods such as using PrEP (an HIV prevention pill), condoms, or sterile injection needles.
When should I take PEP?
You should start taking PEP as soon as possible after the HIV exposure event. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research shows that PEP has little to no effect in preventing HIV if it is taken more than 72 hours (3 days) after exposure [1].
People who take PEP must commit to taking the pills (usually 2-3) every day for 28 days. Once you finish the treatment, your doctor will ask you to take several HIV tests (typically at 4-6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months) to confirm your status. Because PEP is not 100% effective, you should keep using condoms with sex partners and avoid sharing needles with others.
Where can I get PEP?
If you think you were exposed to HIV, talk to your health care provider right away. You can also get PEP at emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, or your local HIV clinic.
Is there help to pay for PEP?
There are different options to help pay for PEP based on the HIV exposure event. If you are a healthcare worker, your insurance should usually pay for PEP. If you were a victim of sexual assault, you may qualify for assistance through the Office for Victims of Crime (see the contact information for each state). If you do not have insurance, talk with your health care provider about applying for patient assistance programs.
Where can I get more information?
CDC PEP Basics
AIDS.gov PEP Info

Be in the know regarding sexual health - including what you can do after engaging in risky sex.

What is PEP?

PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. PEP is a medicine taken by people who may have been exposed to HIV during a single event (like unprotected sex or needle-sharing) to reduce the chances of becoming HIV positive. PEP consists of 2-3 antiretroviral medications that can help stop HIV from spreading in your body. To be effective, PEP must be taken as soon as possible, but no more than 72 hours (3 days) after being exposed to HIV. In addition, the pills must be taken daily for 28 days.

It is important to know that PEP is not 100% effective – it does not guarantee that someone exposed to HIV will not become infected with the disease. PEP is different than PrEP. If you are continually exposed to HIV (by engaging in risky sex behaviors or injection drug use), then you should talk to your doctor about takingPrEP.

Infographic describing PEP and how it is used

Credit: AIDS.gov

Is PEP right for me?

PEP can be taken by anyone who may have been exposed to HIV during a single event. Sometimes healthcare workers take PEP after being exposed to blood or body fluids that may contain HIV. It can also be taken by individuals after having unprotected sex, sharing a needle for injection drug use, or following a sexual assault.

If you think you have been exposed to HIV, visit your health care provider immediately to determine if PEP is right for you.

Keep in mind that PEP is not a substitute for regular, proven HIV prevention methods such as using PrEP (an HIV prevention pill), condoms, or sterile injection needles.

When should I take PEP?

You should start taking PEP as soon as possible after the HIV exposure event. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research shows that PEP has little to no effect in preventing HIV if it is taken more than 72 hours (3 days) after exposure [1].

People who take PEP must commit to taking the pills (usually 2-3) every day for 28 days. Once you finish the treatment, your doctor will ask you to take several HIV tests (typically at 4-6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months) to confirm your status. Because PEP is not 100% effective, you should keep using condoms with sex partners and avoid sharing needles with others.

Where can I get PEP?

If you think you were exposed to HIV, talk to your health care provider right away. You can also get PEP at emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, or your local HIV clinic.

Is there help to pay for PEP?

There are different options to help pay for PEP based on the HIV exposure event. If you are a healthcare worker, your insurance should usually pay for PEP. If you were a victim of sexual assault, you may qualify for assistance through the Office for Victims of Crime (see the contact information for each state). If you do not have insurance, talk with your health care provider about applying for patient assistance programs.

Where can I get more information?

CDC PEP Basics

AIDS.gov PEP Info

"For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again."

— F. Scott Fitzgerald (via un-exotic)

(Source: nuclearharvest, via thegayya)

pozmagazine:

Check Out POZ Mag’s Continuing Coverage of #AIDS2014
We’re working hard in both Melbourne and NYC to help bring you all the latest research, advocacy, policy and news from the 20th International AIDS Conference.

pozmagazine:

Check Out POZ Mag’s Continuing Coverage of #AIDS2014

We’re working hard in both Melbourne and NYC to help bring you all the latest research, advocacy, policy and news from the 20th International AIDS Conference.

Time for another ask an expert blog!!
Question:  How do I tell my partner if I am unhappy?
“Answer:  Being able to communicate well with your partner is very important. If you are able to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs to your partner, you will feel better about yourself and are more likely to have a satisfying relationship.
First of all, it helps to know that every relationship has its tough spots, and even couples that seem perfect to an outsider may have underlying issues. What makes a relationship healthy is being able to work through those issues in a way that is respectful to the feelings of both partners.
When something doesn’t feel right or isn’t going well, it can be tough to bring it up. Start by finding a time and space when you two can be alone without interruptions. If it feels natural, you might want to ease into the conversation by starting with something positive, such as something you like about your partner. But don’t wait too long to bring up what is on your mind.
Be direct and focus on your perspective and how you feel. Let’s say you want to spend more time with your partner, but he always seems to be busy with his friends. Instead of saying, “You’re so rude. You never invite me out,” say, “I feel left out when you don’t invite me out with your friends.” Or to start with something positive, say, “I like it when you text me when you are out, but when you don’t invite me out with you, I sometimes feel left out.”
Discussing things in this way can help you avoid some common mistakes like put-downs or attacking your partner’s character. Put-downs are things like name calling and insults. Attacking your partner’s character is generalizing blame (“You never…”, “You always…”), instead of talking about something specific. If you find yourself or your partner using put downs or getting caught up in anger, it’s best to pause, take a time out, and finish talking when you have calmed down.
Give your partner a chance to talk about her perspective. Part of being a good communicator is being an active listener. In other words, don’t just hear what your partner says, but you try to understand what she is saying.
If you try to work through a problem with your partner, and you just can’t, that isn’t necessarily bad. It could mean that the two of you aren’t right for each other or that this is not the right time for you to be together. If your partner verbally puts you down, tries to manipulate you, forces you do anything sexually that you don’t want to, or physically hurts you in any way, these are all forms of abuse. In these cases, sometimes the healthiest decision is to end the relationship.
Whatever it is that is on your mind, your partner won’t know unless you tell her. Having tough conversations in relationships takes practice, but it gets easier over time.
Additional resources:How Can We Communicate Better?Myths about Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQIA Community”
In our “Ask an Expert” blog series, researchers from the IMPACT Program answer questions from LGBTQ youth. This month’s expert is Dr. Brian Mustanski, director of the IMPACT Program and a licensed clinical psychologist.
Featured image credit: By Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany (IMG_26671) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Time for another ask an expert blog!!

Question:  How do I tell my partner if I am unhappy?

Answer:  Being able to communicate well with your partner is very important. If you are able to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs to your partner, you will feel better about yourself and are more likely to have a satisfying relationship.

First of all, it helps to know that every relationship has its tough spots, and even couples that seem perfect to an outsider may have underlying issues. What makes a relationship healthy is being able to work through those issues in a way that is respectful to the feelings of both partners.

When something doesn’t feel right or isn’t going well, it can be tough to bring it up. Start by finding a time and space when you two can be alone without interruptions. If it feels natural, you might want to ease into the conversation by starting with something positive, such as something you like about your partner. But don’t wait too long to bring up what is on your mind.

Be direct and focus on your perspective and how you feel. Let’s say you want to spend more time with your partner, but he always seems to be busy with his friends. Instead of saying, “You’re so rude. You never invite me out,” say, “I feel left out when you don’t invite me out with your friends.” Or to start with something positive, say, “I like it when you text me when you are out, but when you don’t invite me out with you, I sometimes feel left out.”

Discussing things in this way can help you avoid some common mistakes like put-downs or attacking your partner’s character. Put-downs are things like name calling and insults. Attacking your partner’s character is generalizing blame (“You never…”, “You always…”), instead of talking about something specific. If you find yourself or your partner using put downs or getting caught up in anger, it’s best to pause, take a time out, and finish talking when you have calmed down.

Give your partner a chance to talk about her perspective. Part of being a good communicator is being an active listener. In other words, don’t just hear what your partner says, but you try to understand what she is saying.

If you try to work through a problem with your partner, and you just can’t, that isn’t necessarily bad. It could mean that the two of you aren’t right for each other or that this is not the right time for you to be together. If your partner verbally puts you down, tries to manipulate you, forces you do anything sexually that you don’t want to, or physically hurts you in any way, these are all forms of abuse. In these cases, sometimes the healthiest decision is to end the relationship.

Whatever it is that is on your mind, your partner won’t know unless you tell her. Having tough conversations in relationships takes practice, but it gets easier over time.

Additional resources:
How Can We Communicate Better?
Myths about Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQIA Community

In our “Ask an Expert” blog series, researchers from the IMPACT Program answer questions from LGBTQ youth. This month’s expert is Dr. Brian Mustanski, director of the IMPACT Program and a licensed clinical psychologist.

Featured image credit: By Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team from Germany (IMG_26671) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.