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Monday, July 15, 2013

Gay Marriage, Gay Community, Gay Inc, HIV/AIDS, Let us not forget Mental Health Serices

I was attending the annual NAMI  Conference July 27 - July 1st, 2013 to present my poster session titled, "Dual Diagnosed, Bipolar and HIV+ My Road to Recovery, when I first read the June 28th Op-Ed, "Gay Marriage is Great, But How About Some Love for the AIDS fight?", written by long time AIDS and gay rights Activist Peter Staley.  Thank you Peter for a well written article. It was just the month before when I ever heard of Gay Inc.  I was in the audience attending, Is This My Beautiful Life,  Perspectives from Survivors of the AIDS Generation held May 9th, 2013.

                                           June 29, 2013  National Alliance on Mental Illness
                                       Board meeting advocating for the 1 in 5 HIV+ people
                                       struggling with major depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

For me it was a momentous night as the presentation addressed something so close to home for me, HIV, mental illness and substance abuse., the three pillars of  the website founded  2004 as consumer advocate for HIV and Mental Health.   The event was sponsored by the Medius Working Group formed  in memory of Spencer Cox (1968-2012). Mr Cox founded the Medius Institute for Gay Men's Health (2006-2007).  "It was founded to advocate for research into emotional, mental and physical issues facing gay men in midlife.  I never met Spencer Cox, but I like to think he would have appreciated my own Op-Ed Wearing Red and Green just a week before the event.

The article resurfaced twice since Mr. Staley's Op-Ed, one titled "Gay Community Won Battles on Marriage, But May Be Losing the War on HIV/AIDS " July 3rd and the other "Gay Inc. Winning on Marriage, Losing on HIV/AIDS", , July 9th.

After reading all three, I didn't see mention of what drew me to the, "Its My Beautiful Life" event I attended, that being mental illness.   I read "Living On the Edge Gay Men, Depression And Risk-Taking Behaviors", written by Spencer Cox. In it Mr. Cox wrote, page 10, paragraph two:

"In this sense, mental health care, should be a topic of concern as much as gay marriage or anti-trust laws. We need to demand that depression in gay men be studied and treated not just as an adjunct to other public health problems, but as an important health risk in it's own right.  We need to demand public health programs and insurance coverage to meet our mental health needs.  And we need to confront the institutions, both outside and within the gay community that fail to support gay men in building happy, healthy lives."

So let use honor Spencer Cox by making sure mental health stays in the equation as we move beyond marriage equality and monies are targeted back to AIDS funding.

Two white papers published by Spencer Cox
2006 and 2007

"Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act"

Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits and Federal Parity Protections for 62 Million Americans"
February 20, 2013

"Mental Health and HIV, the Uncharted Territory"
March 14, 2013

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