How gay neighborhoods used HIV trauma to help American cities fight coronavirus


TThroughout the pandemic, local neighborhoods have played a critical role and well documented role that provides the social and health services needed for American communities and businesses to survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gay neighborhoods were especially well equipped to meet this challenge, according to our latest research on these communities.

We find that the lessons learned and traumas experienced in the early days of the HIV / AIDS pandemic helped urban gay areas respond to COVID-19 quickly and effectively – especially in the face of the initial paralysis of the federal government.

How gay neighborhoods fought HIV / AIDS

Gay neighborhoods are the ones welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other minorities – a population generally referred to by LGBTQ + shorthand. Some well-known examples are the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco, Washington’s Dupont Circle, and New York City’s Greenwich Village and Chelsea.

“Gay neighborhoods” grew during the sexual liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, offering LGBT people and their allies the chance to escape discrimination and widespread prejudice. In these areas, sexual minorities could rent apartments, socialize in bars, and express themselves freely in a like-minded, compassionate community.

Although LGBTQ people in the United States began to live more openly, gay neighborhoods really did united around the HIV / AIDS pandemic.

When that mysterious new disease began to ravage the LGBTQ community in the 1980s, the U.S. government stepped away from those communities, not toward them. Critical support for the fight against HIV, including health benefits for the uninsured and funding for treatment and care researchinitially not provided. Information provided by governments on the transmission and treatment of diseases was inconsistent and sometimes inaccurate.

Government negligence ended up stigmatizing people with HIV and causing many preventable deaths. So, as we discovered in our most recent book, gay neighborhoods filled the void where government and major organizations failed. They became the battlefields where the AIDS pandemic was fought and eventually won.

People in gay neighborhoods developed community organizations and systems to provide health and mental health services, provide social assistance to LGBTQ + people, and support LGBTQ-friendly businesses.

Public health organizations such as New York Gay men’s health crisis he also intervened to do what many doctors did not want. They shared information about the slowdown and stop the spread of HIV and also distributed condoms, conducted free HIV tests, and connected people who tested positive to help.

Building community through crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic shares many similarities which recalls the first days of the HIV / AIDS pandemic.

With both HIV / AIDS and COVID-19, there was one a bewildered and bewildered government response that endangered life and produced fear i stigma. There were even some of the same government-appointed leaders: both Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx worked on gathering government resources to lead the medical response to HIV in the 1990s.

With COVID-19, as with HIV / AIDS, city ​​and state governments were unprepared to fight a disease outbreak. They lacked planning and infrastructure to effectively combat a rapidly accelerating threat to public health.

As a result, several states in the United States sought help from gay neighborhood organizations LGBTQ + health organizations based in the neighborhood to help support theirs COVID-19 pandemic response.

For example, in New York, the Erie County Department of Health requested it Evergreen health – an LGBTQ community group originally established in the 1980s as a voluntary effort to fight HIV – takes responsibility HIV testing during the COVID-19 pandemic so the county government could focus on COVID-19 testing. Evergreen too opened a COVID-19 testing center in the spring of 2020, four decades after introducing HIV testing in the Buffalo region.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Evergreen Health not only continued to provide health care and other support services to the LGBTQ community in Buffalo, but also expanded its offerings to better serve poor and minority neighborhoods throughout the city. In that moment, New York State was the epicenter of the world of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Chicago and other cities, activists used to LGBTQ + urban social networks and professionals established during the HIV / AIDS pandemic to combat the latter disease. Queer communities disseminated information about COVID-19 to neighbors and distributed facial masks and other protective equipment, in the same way that they had once shared information about HIV transmission and distributed condoms.

Lessons learned

States with significant grassroots activism in the HIV crisis also applied lessons from that era overcoming misinformation i fear of contagious diseases.

For example, New York State used a network of small laboratories to process its COVID-19 tests and administer vaccines – a pioneering model during the onset of the HIV / AIDS pandemic when large, centralized laboratories were initially nervous to work with HIV-positive blood samples. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this allowed New York to react effectively and process COVID-19 tests relatively quickly.

New York, followed by California, was one of the states where COVID-19 infection first appeared in the United States. these state governments establish testing procedures, they were based on test methods established during the HIV / AIDS pandemic. The experience in New York and California with HIV / AIDS helped, at least in part, to establish robust testing networks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He Government of the United Kingdomon the other hand, it chose centralized laboratories to process tests, rejecting an offer to create a complementary network of smaller local suppliers. This decision it can have complicated tests and slow down the results and contact tracking, according to SkyNews reports.

Our research also finds Gay neighborhoods came together to meet the needs of the wider community.

Activist mutual aid networks formed decades ago within “gayborhoods”, deployed peer-to-peer mobile technologies it helps to feed closed and sick people – not just within the LGBTQ community.

Many of these efforts to combat COVID-19, as actions performed in fight against HIV / AIDS, were done quietly, without fanfare. This neighbor-helping approach is one leadership badge that can be found in gay neighborhoods – experienced rescuers in times of crisis.

Daniel Baldwin Hess, Professor of Urbanism and Spatial Planning, University of Buffalo i Alex Bitterman, Professor of Architecture and Design, Alfred State College of Technology, New York State University

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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