Ed Duda, the executive liaison for Gilead Sciences, had the pleasure of sharing his outlook on tackling health issues that plague different communities at the Black Health Matters Summit on September 1st in Charleston, SC. He spoke specifically about conquering myths about HIV, stigma and a path to eliminating new infections. Ed shared, “there is a lot of stigma and trauma associated with HIV particularly within the different communities that are at risk for contracting and spreading HIV. So, it takes more than telling someone to use protection to help.”
Ed remarked that it is essential to not only educate them on the different ways to prevent and stop the spread of this disease but also to show them support and love. He shared that these 9 words, “love, life, hope, pride, joy, grace, peace, purpose and legacy”which hold great weight and meaning in the communities disproportionately affected by HIV. While medicines like PrEP are effective drugs, it takes acknowledging the struggles of others and being an outlet for support to really stimulate change andawareness.
The focus of the talk wasabout the equal importance of treatment and prevention. “As important as it is to treat and manage HIV once it’scontracted, it also important to take precautions in order to prevent people from ever contracting it.” The drug Truvada helps with the many different levels of HIV. Drugs like Truvada are a contributing factor in the significant decline of deaths from HIV since 1995 and thereby are, “Changing the face of HIV”. He ended his presentation by having an interactive lesson showing the audience how many people have someone affected by STDs and how prevalent in our community. The results showed that most of the room knew someone at risk of having an STD which just goes to show that dealing with this disease is not just on the person affected but the people in the network aswell.
If you or a loved one is interested in learning about how to stop the spread of HIV, we recommend that you see: https://www.helpstopthevirus.com/.