Positively Aware Online News Brief. Current HIV News and events
POSITIVELY AWARE 6/11/2012
Dealing a major defeat to statewide efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a state budget on May 31 that slashes funding for community-based HIV prevention, care, and housing programs by 42%. The funding cuts will take effect with the state budget that begins July 1, 2012.
More than 100 additional people (a 10% increase) are likely to be newly infected with HIV in the coming year because of the funding cuts, according to projections by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). The lifetime medical costs for those individuals will exceed $40 million, a financial burden that may end up negating all the “savings” this cut is meant to create.
“The General Assembly set back the progress against AIDS by a decade,” said David Ernesto Munar, AFC President/CEO. “Just when we are starting to see new HIV cases decline, Illinois has turned its back on people with HIV and people at risk of HIV.”
Arick Buckles, well known AIDS advocate and co-chair of the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy (IL ASAP) expressed what many in the community are feeling, “It’s devastating, just devastating. There is no cure for HIV, people are still dying. I’m totally shocked by this.”
Buckles was present in April at the annual Lobby Days in Springfield and says, “I thought they understood. I thought they heard us. But this is certainly not a reflection of my voice or the voices of the other advocates who met with legislators.”
His disillusionment is palpable as he draws a parallel between the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, published two years ago next month, and the Affordable Care Act, now being challenged in the Supreme Court. Both have lofty, noble goals, that were supposed to guarantee HIV-positive people total access to care and treatment, he said, but absolutely no chance of meeting those goals without the funding necessary to implement them. It is clear that that’s even less likely in Washington than adequate funding for HIV/AIDS programs is in Illinois.
“Are we going back to the ’80s?” Buckles laments. “Are we going to have to watch our friends, lovers, family, community suffer and die from what is now a manageable, chronic disease?”
The General Assembly could have avoided HIV funding cuts by reducing corporate tax loopholes and taking other steps to increase revenue, but once again, the demands of corporations were placed above the needs of the people.
“At a time when Medicaid, healthcare programs, and HIV services are being dramatically reduced, the General Assembly made sweetheart deals to Fortune 500 companies in the form of sizeable tax breaks,” said AFC’s Munar. “It’s a shameful reality and sign of misplaced priorities.”
ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America, airing Tuesday, July 10, 2012, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), by award-winning filmmaker Renata Simone takes viewers on an unprecedented two-hour exploration of one of the country’s most urgent, most preventable health crises. Three years in the making, this groundbreaking documentary film tells the story of how, from the earliest days, prejudice, silence, and stigma allowed the virus to spread deep into the black community.
The documentary includes remarkably candid interviews with basketball legend Magic Johnson; civil rights pioneer Julian Bond; leading doctors, health workers, educators and social activists working on the front lines of the crisis; and pastors around the country, many of whom have been divided on the response of the black church to the epidemic over the years.
Most compelling are the personal stories. The film allows people to tell their own stories, in their own voices. These intimate portraits are presented against the backdrop of the culture, politics, and social inequities that allowed the virus to spread unchecked over the past three decades and today complicate the efforts to get to the “endgame.”
Shot coast to coast in Los Angeles, Oakland, Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.; in churches, clinics, a high school classroom, a prison, a nightclub, a restaurant kitchen and on the street, Frontline reveals the chain of events that helped spread the epidemic, even altering the nature of the mating game itself.
By uncovering the layered truth of how and why HIV is so much worse in black America, and by letting us come to know people who are affected now and what their lives are like, the film points to the future. As Phill Wilson, head of the Black AIDS Institute, tells it: “We’ve been at this for 30 years now. We are at a different point in the evolution of the crisis. We need to be talking about our endgame.”
The film is directed, produced and written by Renata Simone, the producer of the 2006 award-winning Frontline series The Age of AIDS. Simone, who created the first national series on HIV in 1989, The AIDS Quarterly with Peter Jennings, brings decades of knowledge about HIV and experience in the field to this film.
Click here for more information.Follow on Facebook and Twitter @frontlinepbs
The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) issued this response to AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) earlier announcement that they have submitted 360,000 petition signatures in a continuing effort to put a mandatory condom measure for performers in adult films on the Los Angeles County ballot for November.
FSC’s response is as follows:
“What this announcement really means is that they have spent upwards of two million dollars on paid signature gatherers to get a useless bill in front of L.A. County voters. It is important that L.A. County voters understand the real issue behind AHF’s push for this unnecessary ballot measure.
“In their press release, AHF stated that ‘the Measure is modeled on County’s health permit process for tattoo and massage parlors and bathhouses.’ The big difference with the adult film industry is that contact with the public occurs through television, computers and smart phones.”
There is no direct contact with the public so FSC asks how this can be a public health issue.
“A 152-page epidemiological profile on HIV/AIDS was distributed by the L.A. County in 2010. The sole purpose of the document was to provide guidance to L.A. County and non-profit organizations on the best use of their resources concerning HIV. Nowhere in that report are adult productions even mentioned. The report does identify the Latino population, African Americans, the un-insured, the under-insured and people in poverty, as areas of concern for HIV and targets for HIV resources.”
“Imagine how many people,” FSC states, “could have been served with the millions AHF has already wasted on this ballot measure. Imagine how many will go unserved if the County is forced to waste its limited HIV resources on a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Since 2008, 6,300 new cases of HIV have been reported in L.A. County. According to FSC, none of the 6,300 cases have occurred on an adult [film] set, and the rigorous testing protocols in place have resulted in a zero onset transmission of HIV for the past eight years. One concern raised in the County’s epidemiological profile is the number of people in L.A. County who are walking around with HIV but are untested. Testing every 28 days, adult performers are the most tested population in L.A. County. [See the upcoming July+August issue of Positively Aware,“Leather, Porn, and Kink,” for more.]
“There are a number of nonprofit organizations that provide excellent education and services for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately AIDS Healthcare Foundation has lost its service focus and is now in the HIV ‘business’ and will do or say anything to increase their fame and fortune. The County Condom measure is just their next and the latest ‘business’ opportunity,” FSC concludes.
Communities Taking Action is a collection of profiles that showcase successful community initiatives aimed at promoting just and equitable health outcomes. The profiles demonstrate how strong leadership, community engagement and advocacy, innovative thinking, and changes in local policies and institutional practices can successfully converge to shape healthier, more equitable community environments.
- In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a coalition of youth, program staff, and agencies worked together to revitalize Hunting Park, an 87-acre park in North Philadelphia.
- The city of Richmond, California, developed a comprehensive general plan to address public health in community design.
These are just two of the profiles in Communities Taking Action: Profiles of Health Equity. The media, policymakers and community advocates will find many more examples that illustrate effective cross-sector community prevention efforts. Now, it’s easier than ever to use Communities Taking Action:
- Browse over 100 profiles in an easy-to-use Google map.
- Use the advanced search to filter results by topic, specific strategies, location type and collaborative partners.
- Explore how strong leadership, community engagement, advocacy, and innovative thinking have changed local policies and institutional practices to shape healthier, more equitable community environments.
To support local National HIV Testing Day activities, the National HIV and STD Testing Resources website has been updated. Check out the new National HIV Testing Day page to Register your Event or Find an Event Near You.
HIVtest.org is designed to make it easier than ever to find the right tools and resources to help community members, program staff, and other stakeholders raise awareness about the importance of being tested for HIV.
The “Find an Event Near You” page has several new changes, including:
- Allows search by ZIP code
- Includes Google map features such as directions and zoom options
- When viewing all events, sort results by event name, organization name, date, city, state, or ZIP code
- Improved view on iOS devices such as iPhone, iPod, or iPad
- Provides geolocation (takes current location into consideration for mobile users)
In the Financial Services bill released by the House Appropriations Committee, one provision targeting the District of Columbia would bar city funds from paying for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democratic delegate from D.C., vowed to work with allies in the Senate to excise the provision while thanking the committee for funding many of her priorities. Every dollar that D.C. raises, Congress must approve for spending. The bill also includes $5 million for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment in the city.
The debate intensified June 6 over House Republicans’ latest healthcare repeal bill, H.R. 436. The bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) tax on medical devices and its restrictions on the use of health savings accounts.
“In sum, H.R. 436 would fund tax breaks for industry by raising taxes on middle-class and low-income families. Instead of working together to reduce health care costs, H.R. 436 chooses to refight old political battles over health care. If the President were presented with H.R. 436, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy.
Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, is seeking support for a constitutional amendment that would allow for the funding of the state’s Medicaid system, which currently serves about 900,000 residents.
On September 18, Alabama voters will decide whether to approve an amendment that would transfer $145.8 million from the state's oil and gas trust fund to its General Fund, and to transfer similar amounts in 2013 and 2014.
State officials have said that state agencies will lose 10% of their revenue should the amendment fail. State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williams last month said the loss of funds could prove catastrophic for Medicaid.
Kind of refreshing to hear about a Republican that cares about the poor and sick of his state and would rather use oil and gas money to help keep Medicaid going than throw his constituents under the bus.