Whitman-Walker Health will hold its third ''Community Conversation'' Thursday, continuing the series that began Jan. 26. Already having explored ''healthier hookups'' and substance abuse, the topic March 29 is ''why safer sex matters.''
''One would think it's obvious, but there are still people having unprotected sex,'' says Christopher Dyer, founder of D.C.'s Youth Pride Alliance, director of the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs under Adrian Fenty, and now serving as a consultant to WWH with this conversation series.
With the advent of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) being discussed as a way to prevent HIV transmission by treating uninfected, at-risk people with antiretroviral medications, for example, Dyer points to a need to change messaging about safer sex.
''We need to reaffirm why safer sex matters, and come up with strategies to increase safer sex,'' he says.
Leandrea Gilliam, manager of the Care Advocate Program at D.C.'s Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), will be participating in Thursday's conversation. And like Dyer, she also says the topic is one that needs to be revisited.
''Safer sex definitely matters to our populations,'' says Gilliam, who connects HIV-positive SMYAL clients with care and treatment services. ''There are not enough messages geared toward our youth MSM (men who have sex with men) population. There really do need to be more campaigns.''
At Thursday's conversation, Gilliam will be joined by Michael Kharfen of D.C.'s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA); Dr. Ray Martins of WWH; Isaiah Webster of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD); and Sean Bugg, Metro Weekly co-publisher, as moderator.
The event is co-sponsored by Capital Pride, DC Log Cabin Republicans, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, The D.C. Center's HIV Working Group, Metro TeenAIDS, the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM), SMYAL, Team DC and Us Helping Us.
The Community Conversation, ''Why Safer Sex Matters,'' is Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m., True Reformer Building, 1200 U St. NW. For more information, call 202-745-7000 or visit whitman-walker.org.