Honoring the Future of Sexual Health and Justice Work
Jaziah Rispress

Honoring the Future of Sexual Health and Justice Work

By Deonna Kelli Sayed, THP’s Grant Manager

This year’s Ron Johnson Red Ribbon 2023 focused on the theme of Past. Present. Future. Honoring our past. Adapting to our present. Promising our future. In this final Red Ribbon Blog 2023 post, we look at the future THP’s work through a recap of progress and the story of Jaziah Rispress, the 22 year old HIV+ individual featured in the video.

When the Triad Health Project begin in 1986, HIV arrived as a death sentence called AIDS. Today, advances in HIV medication offer a reality where U = U (undetectable = non-transmissible).  With proper care, those living with HIV enjoy long and fulfilling lives. 

These advances, along with PrEP, mean HIV transmission rates have declined, as well as the complications associated with AIDS.

In the early days of HIV treatment, people had to take numerous pills. Today, medical advancements mean many now take only ONE daily pill. Recent options have evolved, and some are now shifting to periodic injectables (like Jaziah Rispress), thus making ongoing treatment even more convenient.

Things have come a long way, baby!

Challenges remain, however. The earliest diagnosed are now senior citizens and the first generation to live with aging and HIV. This is an unchartered territory compounded by other aspects of aging, stigma around being HIV+, and potential social isolation.

The stigma around an HIV diagnosis remains a very real reality that creates barriers to seeking care and community for anyone with a diagnosis. THP continues to work for a #stigmafree conversation around HIV and sexual health. THP desires to elevate those living with HIV as individuals whose existence is bigger than their diagnosis.

HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities; gay, bisexual, men who have sex with men; and Black heterosexual women. Most new cases are in the South. THP’s work is critical to empower communities of color to engage in testing, PrEP, and HIV treatment.

Today, THP’s focus extends beyond HIV. Did you know that we conduct 40-50% of STI testing in Guilford County? Last year, THP tested 1544 people and noticed the rising number of STIs in those under 25 years of age. Sexual health and education are no longer taught in public schools, particularly in ways that represent inclusive sexual and gender identities. We offer a brave space for people to learn about sexual health from our diverse Prevention staff, to obtain free safer sex materials, and to engage in stigma-free discussions.

THP is expanding Prevention and Wellness to offer PrEP, HIV, and Hepatitis C treatment via telemedicine to anyone in North Carolina. This innovative approach to care removes barriers to access. By offering Hepatitis C treatment, particularly for those exposed through intravenous drug use, THP provides harm reduction efforts that will positively impact public health.

THP’s core mission and values remain informed by those early days of HIV/AIDS when people were shunned because of their diagnosis, had little to no effective medical treatment available, and needed community.

Care. Equity. Love. Hope.

Today, THP celebrates advances in HIV treatment while also working towards a more just future for all.

Sexual health and justice belong to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, identity, or status.  THP is honored to do this work.

You can support THP’s work here.