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Thursday, October 29, 2009

How the world views the HIV/AIDS epidemic is in some cases a stark difference to how we view it here in the states. I just read an article and posted a message on about how Kenya is looking to provide resources to gays for the Census. Problem with that in Africa is, there is punishable jail time that accompanies your admission of being gay. Well who do you think will come forward to get "education" on HIV/AIDS prevention if they think they get thrown in jail? So I clearly question the motives of the Kenyan government and precisely what it expects to gain from such fruitless efforts.

Well that leads us to Russia who also made the news in their awareness of this epidemic spreading. The truth is Russia has no awareness plans because they have only subscribed to the failed "abstinence" strategy. They have come to realize that ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away.

AIDS specialists urged Russia to adopt successful strategies like needle-exchange programs and heroin substitutes such as methadone for drug addicts.

The number of HIV infections in Russia has doubled in the past eight years and there is evidence that in this region the virus is increasingly being spread by heterosexual sex.

The rapid growth of the epidemic in Russia is in contrast to sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia, where prevalence of the virus fell during the same eight-year period, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations AIDS agency. So while other nations were addressing the issues and meeting them head to reduce their numbers and deaths, Russia has climbed to double digits.

Russia’s chief public health officer, Gennady Onishchenko, told a regional AIDS conference Wednesday that Russia is "emphatically against" the use of drug replacement therapy. Meanwhile, he criticized programs that exchange clean needles for used ones, saying such programs may promote illicit drug sales and HIV transmission.

Both are part of a so-called harm reduction strategy, in contrast to the just-say-no programs that urge abstinence from drugs and risky sex. Russian health officials say they are committed overall to a "healthy lifestyles" rather than a harm reduction approach to improving public health.

That isn’t good enough, a number of foreign experts say.

"International studies show that an abstinence-based message on drug use or sex simply doesn’t work," said Robin Gorna, executive director of the International AIDS Society. In Russia, she said, "it does appear that ideology is getting in the way of public health care policy."

Russia has increased spending on AIDS programs by 33 times since 2006, making it a central part of an ambitious new national health care strategy. It has expanded drug treatment dramatically for AIDS sufferers and is among the leaders worldwide in reducing the incidence of transmission of the disease between mothers and their babies.

But many Russian officials view harm reduction efforts as encouraging criminal or shameful behavior. The position has left it increasingly isolated, as China recently embraced such programs, foreign AIDS experts here said.

Russia has some highly successful needle exchange programs and free condom programs, several foreign specialists said, but many have been paid for through grants from the international Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Now those grants are being terminated under Global Fund rules, the specialists said, because Russia is too wealthy to qualify for them.

Chris Beyrer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said Russian officials "have never really embraced" needle exchange, free condom distribution and other harm reduction techniques.

"It is the reason I think that they continue to have one of the most severe epidemics in the region," said Beyrer, director of Hopkins’ AIDS International Training and Research Program. He was in Moscow for the regional meeting, which runs through Friday.

AIDS was virtually unknown in Russia and elsewhere in the Soviet Union prior to the collapse of Communism. What started as an epidemic among male injection drug users here in the late 1990s has gradually moved into the communities of sex workers. By 2007 about 44 percent of new infections in Russia were among women, according to UNAIDS, raising fears it could move into the general population.

Onishchenko blamed the increase in HIV infections to the surge in Afghan poppy production over the past decade, a trend that has flooded the former Soviet Union with heroin. Amazing, Russia is now blaming Afghanistan!

People living in the region are routinely asked to provide health certificates that reveal their HIV status, the report found. Hospital workers often casually identify HIV-positive patients to bystanders and co-workers, U.N. researchers said, and hospitals frequently segregate HIV-positive patients, treat them with scorn or charge them extra, hidden fees.

HIV-positive children face discrimination at school, including forced disclosure of their status and segregation from other students, while in the labor sector, many employers are wary of hiring HIV-positive individuals.

AIDS activists say that discrimination drives many of those infected to avoid testing and treatment. This is the real problem, the lack of equality and freedom from discrimination prevents education.

*This article, originally posted by the Association Press was amended by Familyblendz for this blog posting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

David Patterson, NY Governor bets the ranch on LGBT

Governor Patterson, the first blind governor to ever hold office in the United States seems to have bet his election bid on the LGBT Community. We say, "election" instead of "re-election" bid cosidering he effectively replaced the scandal ridden former governor of New York, Elliott Spitzer.

Governor Patterson was recently asked by the Obama White House not, NOT, to see his own term as for the NY mansion for their fear that he may lose his bid due to recent low polling. Of course Governor Patterson has decided to rally behind a Civil Rights agenda but not for the one group of people, but instead for all people;and that would include the LGBT community.

The Governors Mansion up in Albany is bracing for the entrenched battles ahead, as Patterson has already formed his arguments against any republican opponents that might attempt to run against him (and there are plenty), but one specifically, Rudy Guilliani.

The White House knows that Guilliani is as liberal as a republican might get, he's for some 'equality issues and he has a strong security passed, i.e. 9-11. So Patterson is locking and loading his agenda with everything he can to ensure he can rise above from his smoldering poll numbers.

We would like to think, that Governor Patterson would take on this fight regardless of his political peril, however, we know the real long truth and it is not in our favor. All he has to do is look across the Hudson River and the embattled Governor Jon Corzine and he will be reminded that we will not carry his water just because of a few good speeches.

Corzine, will pull it out, but he has been warned that the LGBT community is looking forward.

Republicans come OUT for Hate Crimes Bill

Log Cabin Republicans National Chairman Terry W. Hamilton issued the following statement on the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 (HR 2647) by the Senate, which included the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

“We thank the nine Republicans who voted for the Hate Crimes-inclusive DOD bill for final passage: Kit Bond (R-MO); John Cornyn (R-TX); Susan Collins (R-ME); John Ensign (R-NV); Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX); Dick Lugar (R-IN); John McCain (R-AZ); Olympia Snowe (R-ME); George Voinovich (R-OH); who voted in favor of Senate Resolution to provide local and state law enforcement with the funding and tools necessary to fully prosecute crimes of the most heinous nature – those based out of hate,” said Hamilton. “These senators, along with the House previously passed with 44 Republican votes, led by Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) who supported their version of the same bill, took a courageous stand in casting their votes. This is not hate-speech legislation – it is hate-crime prevntion legislation.”

“We are happy to join the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches and other law enforcement and civil rights organizations in the support of this legislation.”

A 2007 Hart Research poll shows large majorities of every major subgroup of the American electorate – including such traditionally conservative groups as Republican men and evangelical Christians – expressing support for strengthening hate crimes laws.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The "Every Child Deserves a Family" Act?

Do we really think that the "system" can continue to absorb the weight and brunt of unwanted children crowded into an outdated and overwhelmed capacity? Well thats precisely what "they" say when children are denied same sex couples; when families are not permitted to bring in additional children to nurture and care for.

There's new legislation however and if passed, the new bill could restrict federal funding for states with anti-LGBT adoption and foster policies.

The ’Every Child Deserves a Family Act,’ which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) on Oct. 15, would penalize states with outdated adoption policies that restrict access based on marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

"We got 25,000 kids a year maturing out of the welfare system without permanent foster care or adoptive care, and the prospects of those children having a successful adult life are diminished greatly," Stark told the Washington Blade. "These are kids who end up in the criminal justice system, or end up homeless."

The legislation would directly affect states with explicit adoption restrictions, including Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Mississippi.

The bill has received support from Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. According to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesperson, the Speaker believes that children "should have the security of two fully sanctioned and legally recognized parents, whether those parents are of the same or opposite sex."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Family Equality Council (FEC), both LGBT rights organizations, have also offered their support.

According to Stark, a hearing on the bill could take place in a House Ways & Means Committee this year.