Thursday, December 10, 2015

JeCorey Holder Explains Privilege

Imagine a young kid whose parents are pretty well-off. They can afford to give this kid the things they want. Gaming systems, toys, exotic pets, fancy clothes, varieties of food, all waiting for them at home to utilize whenever they please. 

Now imagine this kid sees another kid. Kid B is living on the margins. This kid can't really afford to get anything super valuable until holidays. But something great happened. Kid B got super creative and MADE themselves an awesome toy. Something they thought they'd never be able to have. It's pretty patchwork and rough, but it's theirs.
 
Kid A is furious. Kid A is utterly indignant. Kid A doesn't have this toy! They scream and cry at Kid B about how unfair it is! Despite Kid A's room being filled with all kinds of valuable things, they're still throwing a tantrum at Kid B's gain. Annoying, right?

This is how it feels when people say All Lives Matter. This is how it feels when people say "If there's a Black Entertainment channel, why isn't there a White Entertainment channel?" This is how it feels when men tell feminists "What is feminism doing for men?" This is how it feels when people criticise marginalized groups for making safe spaces for themselves.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#ITLQBM Guest Post: George M Johnson On Erasure & Historical Intersectionality

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

I often see these meme's of "we were kings" or "queens" or relating that we derived from royalty. And yes, SOME of us may have but why does black history have to be this all or nothing doctrine with complete removal of intersectionality and full insertion of respectability politics.

By this I am saying that we didn't start at slavery, but all of us aren't derived from royalty either. Some of us lineage will start from being slaves, or kings, or share croppers, or shepherds, or blacksmiths, or Egyptians or Mesapotamians or a plethera of other things.

All this to say, we need a full appreciation of what our history is. Erasure of where some of us derived is just as bad as white washing it or starting our history at slavery.

In remembering that ‪#‎allblacklivesmatter‬, we must know that a slave has just as much value as a king. It doesn't matter where we start, its all about where we finish.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Check Your Religious Privilege - The Texas Bill Of Rights

I was reading an article about Cristin Padgett, a fellow Atheist and member of the Democratic Party from Dallas, TX. It just so happened that stumbled upon some information about the Texas Constitution that I just could not believe. According to Article 1, Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Christian privilege - is the system of advantages bestowed upon Christians in some societies. This system arises out of the presumption that the belief in Christianity is a social norm, leading to the exclusion of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices.


Religious discrimination - is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe. Specifically, it is when adherents of different religions (or denominations) are treated unequally, either before the law or in institutional settings such as employment or housing.
Religious discrimination is related to religious persecution, the most extreme forms of which would include instances in which people have been executed for beliefs perceived to be heretic. Laws which only carry light punishments are described as mild forms of religious persecution or as religious discrimination.

Atheism - is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Agnosticism -  is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether or not God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.

I really had a hard time believing this and went to seek out the truth for myself, and it was really in the constitution! Then I flashed back to an earlier post in this series where I said "The truth is that I see religion as a means of social control and domination for those who are in control of governments and other institutions that are used to govern. It does not mean that do not respect a person's convictions or belief in a higher power, and in my acceptance, I am exposed to the constant barrage of God this and prayer that memes, comments and posts via social media. The problem comes when I decide to make a post in reference to my Atheism, someone tries to flex their privilege and respond with some chastisement about how THEIR God is the real deal, mind you, I don't comment on others' posts when it regards religion! I have constantly question whether or not I want to go to certain events because someone will try to guilt me into a prayer circle or saying grace at a dinner.

Faced with the idea that my plans for a possible run for office in Texas can be rejected because I don't believe in God is really outrageous. While there is no requirement to respect any religion in any way, shape or form, it is clear that those who fall on the spectrum of Atheist to Agnostic are not respected. In other words, Atheists and Agnostics need not apply. Just when I thought that Texas could be anymore ass backwards, we have reached new lows.  This is now the time to challenge the constitutionality of the Texas Constitution.

#HIV: Genesis 1981

A Survivor's Guide to HIV



In 1981 a report on the discovery of the initial outbreak that lead to the AIDS epidemic came out. The report written by Lawrence K. Altman, was published by the New York Times and at the time it was thought to just be a rare cancer outbreak:

"Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.

The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.

The sudden appearance of the cancer, called Kaposi's Sarcoma, has prompted a medical investigation that experts say could have as much scientific as public health importance because of what it may teach about determining the causes of more common types of cancer. First Appears in Spots

Doctors have been taught in the past that the cancer usually appeared first in spots on the legs and that the disease took a slow course of up to 10 years. But these recent cases have shown that it appears in one or more violet-colored spots anywhere on the body. The spots generally do not itch or cause other symptoms, often can be mistaken for bruises, sometimes appear as lumps and can turn brown after a period of time. The cancer often causes swollen lymph glands, and then kills by spreading throughout the body.

Doctors investigating the outbreak believe that many cases have gone undetected because of the rarity of the condition and the difficulty even dermatologists may have in diagnosing it.

In a letter alerting other physicians to the problem, Dr. Alvin E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center, one of the investigators, described the appearance of the outbreak as ''rather devastating.''

Dr. Friedman-Kien said in an interview yesterday that he knew of 41 cases collated in the last five weeks, with the cases themselves dating to the past 30 months. The Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is expected to publish the first description of the outbreak in its weekly report today, according to a spokesman, Dr. James Curran. The report notes 26 of the cases - 20 in New York and six in California.

There is no national registry of cancer victims, but the nationwide incidence of Kaposi's Sarcoma in the past had been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control to be less than six-one-hundredths of a case per 100,000 people annually, or about two cases in every three million people. However, the disease accounts for up to 9 percent of all cancers in a belt across equatorial Africa, where it commonly affects children and young adults.

In the United States, it has primarily affected men older than 50 years. But in the recent cases, doctors at nine medical centers in New York and seven hospitals in California have been diagnosing the condition among younger men, all of whom said in the course of standard diagnostic interviews that they were homosexual. Although the ages of the patients have ranged from 26 to 51 years, many have been under 40, with the mean at 39.

Nine of the 41 cases known to Dr. Friedman-Kien were diagnosed in California, and several of those victims reported that they had been in New York in the period preceding the diagnosis. Dr. Friedman-Kien said that his colleagues were checking on reports of two victims diagnosed in Copenhagen, one of whom had visited New York. Viral Infections Indicated

No one medical investigator has yet interviewed all the victims, Dr. Curran said. According to Dr. Friedman-Kien, the reporting doctors said that most cases had involved homosexual men who have had multiple and frequent sexual encounters with different partners, as many as 10 sexual encounters each night up to four times a week.

Many of the patients have also been treated for viral infections such as herpes, cytomegalovirus and hepatitis B as well as parasitic infections such as amebiasis and giardiasis. Many patients also reported that they had used drugs such as amyl nitrite and LSD to heighten sexual pleasure.

Cancer is not believed to be contagious, but conditions that might precipitate it, such as particular viruses or environmental factors, might account for an outbreak among a single group.

The medical investigators say some indirect evidence actually points away from contagion as a cause. None of the patients knew each other, although the theoretical possibility that some may have had sexual contact with a person with Kaposi's Sarcoma at some point in the past could not be excluded, Dr. Friedman-Kien said.

Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion. ''The best evidence against contagion,'' he said, ''is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women.''

Dr. Friedman-Kien said he had tested nine of the victims and found severe defects in their immunological systems. The patients had serious malfunctions of two types of cells called T and B cell lymphocytes, which have important roles in fighting infections and cancer.

But Dr. Friedman-Kien emphasized that the researchers did not know whether the immunological defects were the underlying problem or had developed secondarily to the infections or drug use.

The research team is testing various hypotheses, one of which is a possible link between past infection with cytomegalovirus and development of Kaposi's Sarcoma."

For an expanded timeline click HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

#HIV: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

"Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill (brand name Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently." - CDC

CDC Guidelines


May 14, 2014 -

  • Daily oral PrEP with the fixed-dose combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) 300 mg and emtricitabine (FTC) 200 mg has been shown to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of sexual HIV acquisition in adults; therefore,
    • PrEP is recommended as one prevention option for sexually-active adult MSM (men who have sex with men) at substantial risk of HIV acquisition (IA)1
    • PrEP is recommended as one prevention option for adult heterosexually active men and women who are at substantial risk of HIV acquisition. (IA)
    • PrEP is recommended as one prevention option for adult injection drug users (IDU) at substantial risk of HIV acquisition. (IA)
    • PrEP should be discussed with heterosexually-active women and men whose partners are known to have HIV infection (i.e., HIV-discordant couples) as one of several options to protect the uninfected partner during conception and pregnancy so that an informed decision can be made in awareness of what is known and unknown about benefits and risks of PrEP for mother and fetus (IIB)
  • Currently the data on the efficacy and safety of PrEP for adolescents are insufficient. Therefore, the risks and benefits of PrEP for adolescents should be weighed carefully in the context of local laws and regulations about autonomy in health care decision-making by minors. (IIIB) 
  • Acute and chronic HIV infection must be excluded by symptom history and HIV testing immediately before PrEP is prescribed. (IA) 
  • The only medication regimen approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended for PrEP with all the populations specified in this guideline is daily TDF 300 mg co-formulated with FTC 200 mg (Truvada) (IA)
    • TDF alone has shown substantial efficacy and safety in trials with IDUs and heterosexually active adults and can be considered as an alternative regimen for these populations, but not for MSM, among whom its efficacy has not been studied. (IC)
    • The use of other antiretroviral medications for PrEP, either in place of or in addition to TDF/FTC (or TDF) is not recommended. (IIIA)
    • The prescription of oral PrEP for coitally-timed or other noncontinuous daily use is not recommended. (IIIA)
  • HIV infection should be assessed at least every 3 months while patients are taking PrEP so that those with incident infection do not continue taking it. The 2-drug regimen of TDF/FTC is inadequate therapy for established HIV infection, and its use may engender resistance to either or both drugs. (IA)

  • Renal function should be assessed at baseline and monitored at least every 6 months while patients are taking PrEP so that those in whom renal failure is developing do not continue to take it. (IIIA)
  • When PrEP is prescribed, clinicians should provide access, directly or by facilitated referral, to proven effective risk-reduction services. Because high medication adherence is critical to PrEP efficacy but was not uniformly achieved by trial participants, patients should be encouraged and enabled to use PrEP in combination with other effective prevention methods. (IIIA)

Affected Communities:

  • LGBT People of Color
    • Black and Latino men

Access:


You can get prep from any healthcare provider that specializes in HIV prevention in your local area. Many providers offer PrEP free of charge, but if you encounter a barrier to access here are some resources.

If you have insurance:
  • The Gilead Co-pay Coupon Card can help eligible uninfected individuals save on a TRUVADA for PrEP co-pay.* For more information, visit www.GileadCoPay.com or call 1-877-505-6986
If you don't have insurance:

  • Gilead’s U.S. Medication Assistance Program - This program provides assistance to uninfected individuals in the United States who do not have insurance or who need financial assistance. As part of this program, Gilead provides assistance for uninfected individuals who are eligible and who cannot afford to pay for TRUVADA for PrEP. To learn about eligibility, contact Gilead’s U.S. Medication Assistance Program at 1-855-330-5479between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Eastern). You can also download the enrollment form to be completed by your client and your client’s healthcare provider.Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) Program
  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) Program -This program is designed to help uninsured Americans get the prescription medicines they need at no or low cost. Your clients can find out if they are eligible by calling 1-888-4PPA-NOW 
  • (1-888-477-2669) or visiting the PPA Website at www.pparx.org.
If any of your clients do not have insurance, help may also be available through:


Origins

The Clinical Trials:

There were four clinical trials conducted, these trials are the foundation for what is now PrEP: 

December 30, 2010 -


  • BACKGROUND

    Antiretroviral chemoprophylaxis before exposure is a promising approach for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition.

    METHODS

    We randomly assigned 2499 HIV-seronegative men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive a combination of two oral antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC–TDF), or placebo once daily. All subjects received HIV testing, risk-reduction counseling, condoms, and management of sexually transmitted infections.

    RESULTS

    The study subjects were followed for 3324 person-years (median, 1.2 years; maximum, 2.8 years). Of these subjects, 10 were found to have been infected with HIV at enrollment, and 100 became infected during follow-up (36 in the FTC–TDF group and 64 in the placebo group), indicating a 44% reduction in the incidence of HIV (95% confidence interval, 15 to 63; P=0.005). In the FTC–TDF group, the study drug was detected in 22 of 43 of seronegative subjects (51%) and in 3 of 34 HIV-infected subjects (9%) (P<0.001). Nausea was reported more frequently during the first 4 weeks in the FTC–TDF group than in the placebo group (P<0.001). The two groups had similar rates of serious adverse events (P=0.57).

    CONCLUSIONS

    Oral FTC–TDF provided protection against the acquisition of HIV infection among the subjects. Detectable blood levels strongly correlated with the prophylactic effect. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00458393.)
July 11 2012 -


  • Abstract

    Introduction

    Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduces the incidence of acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in men who have sex with men and is a promising approach for preventing HIV-1 in heterosexual populations.

    Methods

    We conducted a randomized, three-arm trial of oral antiretroviral PrEP among heterosexual couples from Kenya and Uganda in which one member was HIV-1 seronegative and the other HIV-1 seropositive. Seronegative partners were randomly assigned to once-daily tenofovir (TDF), combination emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF), or matching placebo and followed monthly for up to 36 months. At enrollment, HIV-1 seropositive partners were not eligible for antiretroviral therapy under national guidelines. All couples received standard HIV-1 treatment and prevention services, including individual and couples risk-reduction counseling and condoms.

    Results

    4758 couples were enrolled; for 62%, the HIV-1 seronegative partner was male. For HIV-1 seropositive participants, the median CD4 count was 495 cells/μL (interquartile range 375–662). Of 82 post-randomization HIV-1 infections, 17 were among those assigned TDF (incidence 0.65 per 100 person-years), 13 among those assigned FTC/TDF (incidence 0.50 per 100 person-years), and 52 among those assigned placebo (incidence 1.99 per 100 person-years), indicating a 67% relative reduction in HIV-1 incidence for TDF (95% CI 44 to 81, p<0.001) and 75% for FTC/TDF (95% CI 55 to 87, p<0.001). HIV-1 protective effects of FTC/TDF and TDF were not significantly different (p=0.23), and both study medications significantly reduced HIV-1 incidence in both men and women. The rate of serious medical events was similar across the study arms.

    Conclusions

    Oral TDF and FTC/TDF provided substantial protection against HIV-1 acquisition in heterosexual men and women, with comparable efficacy of TDF and FTC/TDF. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00557245)
    Keywords: HIV-1 serodiscordant couples, pre-exposure prophylaxis, HIV-1 prevention, randomized clinical trial, Africa.

August 2, 2012 -


BACKGROUND

Preexposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral agents has been shown to reduce the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among men who have sex with men; however, the efficacy among heterosexuals is uncertain.
  • METHODS

    We randomly assigned HIV-seronegative men and women to receive either tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine (TDF–FTC) or matching placebo once daily. Monthly study visits were scheduled, and participants received a comprehensive package of prevention services, including HIV testing, counseling on adherence to medication, management of sexually transmitted infections, monitoring for adverse events, and individualized counseling on risk reduction; bone mineral density testing was performed semiannually in a subgroup of participants.

    RESULTS

    A total of 1219 men and women underwent randomization (45.7% women) and were followed for 1563 person-years (median, 1.1 years; maximum, 3.7 years). Because of low retention and logistic limitations, we concluded the study early and followed enrolled participants through an orderly study closure rather than expanding enrollment. The TDF–FTC group had higher rates of nausea (18.5% vs. 7.1%, P<0.001), vomiting (11.3% vs. 7.1%, P=0.008), and dizziness (15.1% vs. 11.0%, P=0.03) than the placebo group, but the rates of serious adverse events were similar (P=0.90). Participants who received TDF–FTC, as compared with those who received placebo, had a significant decline in bone mineral density. K65R, M184V, and A62V resistance mutations developed in 1 participant in the TDF–FTC group who had had an unrecognized acute HIV infection at enrollment. In a modified intention-to-treat analysis that included the 33 participants who became infected during the study (9 in the TDF–FTC group and 24 in the placebo group; 1.2 and 3.1 infections per 100 person-years, respectively), the efficacy of TDF–FTC was 62.2% (95% confidence interval, 21.5 to 83.4; P=0.03).

    CONCLUSIONS

    Daily TDF–FTC prophylaxis prevented HIV infection in sexually active heterosexual adults. The long-term safety of daily TDF–FTC prophylaxis, including the effect on bone mineral density, remains unknown. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health; TDF2 ClinicalTrials.gov number,NCT00448669.)
June 13 2013 - 

  • Summary

    Background

    Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis reduces sexual transmission of HIV. We assessed whether daily oral use of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir), an antiretroviral, can reduce HIV transmission in injecting drug users.

    Methods

    In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled volunteers from 17 drug-treatment clinics in Bangkok, Thailand. Participants were eligible if they were aged 20–60 years, were HIV-negative, and reported injecting drugs during the previous year. We randomly assigned participants (1:1; blocks of four) to either tenofovir or placebo using a computer-generated randomisation sequence. Participants chose either daily directly observed treatment or monthly visits and could switch at monthly visits. Participants received monthly HIV testing and individualised risk-reduction and adherence counselling, blood safety assessments every 3 months, and were offered condoms and methadone treatment. The primary efficacy endpoint was HIV infection, analysed by modified intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered withClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00119106.

    Findings

    Between June 9, 2005, and July 22, 2010, we enrolled 2413 participants, assigning 1204 to tenofovir and 1209 to placebo. Two participants had HIV at enrolment and 50 became infected during follow-up: 17 in the tenofovir group (an incidence of 0·35 per 100 person-years) and 33 in the placebo group (0·68 per 100 person-years), indicating a 48·9% reduction in HIV incidence (95% CI 9·6–72·2; p=0·01). The occurrence of serious adverse events was much the same between the two groups (p=0·35). Nausea was more common in participants in the tenofovir group than in the placebo group (p=0·002).

    Interpretation

    In this study, daily oral tenofovir reduced the risk of HIV infection in people who inject drugs. Pre-exposure prophylaxis with tenofovir can now be considered for use as part of an HIV prevention package for people who inject drugs.

    Funding

    US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Monday, November 30, 2015

#WAD2015 - Living While Black & HIV Positive

As an activist in many areas that range from the fight to end the criminalization of Blackness to SGL-BT/LGBT rights, I notice the intentional and unintentional forms of erasure that takes place. Many times we are in the heat of the moment. shouting #SayHerName, #BlackLivesMatter with a list of names that are all too often the reminder of why we fight in the first place.

In that heat of the moment (as I stated in Spectre) "we are deconstructing and dismantling a system of racism and White supremacy. We start with the police violence on Blackness, and work into other areas that have been very problematic in terms of criminalizing Blackness, perpetuating misogyny, limiting access to quality education, financial stability, access to proper health care and a host of others." The picture that you see to the left/above depicts me at an event centering Black women and lifting up the injustice behind the death of our fallen sister Sandra Bland.

The picture is important to note, as it was a very obvious attempt to remind activists to be mindful of the intersectionality that makes us who we are. It was intended to highlight HIV awareness and acknowledgement of the existence of the Black queer, and our part in this movement for Black lives. I wrote about the experience of being Black and HIV Positive in a piece for The Body, Reflections on HIV and Privilege From a Conference of People With HIV:

"HIV does not discriminate when it attacks its host; it is the system of privilege and socialized systems of belief that makes HIV insidious. When settings like this exist, and are conducive enough for people not to front-stage or hold back about their authentic experience, the truth about how they view the care they receive versus someone of a different race or gender can emerge. Take me for example: I am a black man who happens to be out gay and atheist. I also happen to be HIV positive with very-little-to-no income. My socioeconomic status requires me to seek services like Ryan White and ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) in order to take care of my health. In general, health care is what comes to mind, and that is the furthest from the truth. I had an experience, where I went to ask for rental assistance under HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) and got turned away, only to see my White counterparts get much better help in the process. This is not all due to White privilege, but that particular privilege plays a major role in how folks receive various services."

According to the CDC:

    • African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV.
    • The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of whites based on population size.
    • Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.

  • African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% of the US population; considering the smaller size of the African American population in the United States, this represents a population rate that is 8 times that of whites overall.
  • In 2010, men accounted for 70% (14,700) of the estimated 20,900 new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American men (103.6/100,000 population) was 7 times that of white men, twice that of Latino men, and nearly 3 times that of African American women.
  • In 2010, African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men**b represented an estimated 72% (10,600) of new infections among all African American men and 36% of an estimated 29,800 new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men. More new HIV infections (4,800) occurred among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.
  • In 2010, African American women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a decrease of 21% since 2008. Most new HIV infections among African American women (87%; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact.c The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost 5 times that of Hispanic/Latino women.d
** Referred to as gay and bisexual men in this fact sheet.

Estimates of New HIV Infections in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2010
African Americans fact sheet: Chart of the estimates of new HIV infections in the US for most affected subpopulations, 2010. 11,200 among White MSM; 10,600 among Black MSM; 6,700 among Hispanic/Latino MSM; 5,300 among Black Heterosexual Women; 2,700 among Black Heterosexual Men; 1,300 among White Heterosexual Women; 1,200 among Hispanic/Latino Heterosexual Women; 1,100 among Black Male IDUs.

Source: CDC. Estimated HIV incidence among adults and adolescents in the United States, 2007–2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(4). Subpopulations representing 2% or less are not reflected in this chart. Abbreviations: MSM, men who have sex with men; IDU, injection drug user.

HIV and AIDS Diagnosese and Deaths

  • At some point in their lifetimes, an estimated 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV infection.
  • In 2012, African Americans had the largest percentage (47%) of the estimated 47,989 diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States.
  • In 2012, an estimated 14,102 African Americans were diagnosed with HIV infection ever classified as stage 3 (AIDS) in the United States.
  • By the end of 2011, an estimated 265,812 African Americans diagnosed with HIV infection ever classified as stage 3 (AIDS) had died in the United States.

To be honest, when dealing with HIV outside and within the Black community, stigma has a stronghold. The lack of HIV 101 plays a large part in why stigma is such a huge issue, it is saddening. It is one of the reasons that came out of the HIV closet, which was for everyone who has been ostracized and made to feel nasty.  While many of us who have HIV are healthier than most out in the general population, Black gay men die at a higher rate from HIV than those who are in the group where HIV infection is actually the highest. Now think about how the Black heterosexual community is affected, especially Black women. People living with HIV not nasty people, we are not contagious, we are doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers! Yes, we are HIV positive and we live a healthy life, We are human beings and we exist. The data showing how HIV affects the Black community is staggering. In a publication called HIV/AIDS Inequality: Structural Barriers to Prevention, Treatment, and Care in Communities of Color many of the issues that I have pointed out, such as Residential segregation and housing discrimination, Education, Criminal justice (including HIV exposure laws) and much more.

HIV - stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.

AIDS - HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or if your CD4 percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS.

TRANSMISSION - Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by

Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:
- Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex (bottoming) is riskier than insertive anal sex (topping).

- Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior.
- Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex.
Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.

SEROCONVERSION:

- Seroconversion is the period of time during which HIV antibodies develop and become detectable.
- Seroconversion generally takes place within a few weeks of initial infection.
- It is often, but not always, accompanied by flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms are not a reliable way to identify seroconversion or to diagnose HIV infection.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Guest Post: Phillipe Cunningham on Cisgender Privilege, Mansplaining & Trans Tokenizing

Was on a great panel with some brilliant trans leaders yesterday. Unfortunately, there was a lot of mansplaining during the Q&A portion with the audience. A cis gay man congratulated himself on the mic for his city having a "trans advisory committee" (that has no real power over anything) and recommended other electeds create one for their cities. I pushed back because advisory councils representing marginalized communities are often just tokenizing with no real voice. I recommended to skip the intermediary... Just recruit and appoint trans folks and folks from other marginalized communities directly onto the city's boards and commissions, duh.

He actually had the audacity to come up to me afterwards, step between Lane (my husband) and me, and push back on my pushback saying that his city's boards and commissions' application pools were already too competitive to prioritize trans/gender nonconforming people's inclusion, implying trans applicants inherently aren't as qualified or competitive. When I asked him what their advisory committee has accomplished as a body, he firmly said, "The trans flag waves 365 days out of the year," as if I was expected to fall out on the floor in awe and gratitude.

So you mean to tell me THAT feels like an actual, real-life accomplishment -a trans flag- when trans people directly affected by issues like public safety, homelessness, the school-to-prison pipeline, and lack of economic opportunities aren't considered "competitive" enough to have voice on those issues?

Even with two elected officials, one appointed official, an academic researcher, and an executive director of a nonprofit on the panel or facilitating it (all trans and gender nonconforming), we were not asked stimulating, challenging questions about how to engage trans and gender nonconforming folks in political participation and why that's important, but instead we were forced to hold space for condescending "advice" about systems, processes and cultures many of us are very knowledgeable about. Mansplaining at its finest. Even with our titles and credentials announced, people still erroneously assumed we didn't know as much as them.

PSA- Please don't waste trans/GNC people's time if you just want to be affirmed that you already have the right answers despite the folks clearly saying, "No, this is how to do it right."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#HIV: Why We Must Educate Ourselves #HIVisNotACrime

Recently Charlie Sheen came out as HIV positive and the reaction to his interview and the news leading up to it exposed just how stigmatized HIV is.

"I would like to admit that I am in fact HIV positive...I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn't be further from the truth." - Charlie Sheen

HIV education among Americans is at at a dangerous low, considering that it has been around over 30 years and that the science behind it seems to be a mythical unicorn to most. I am not surprised by any of this, just this past April I came out and followed up with it more extensively in my coming out series. "I am not coming out of this closet just for me, I am coming out of this closet for everyone who has be ostracized and made to feel nasty. Those of us who have HIV are healthier than most out in the general population, yet we Black gay men die at a higher rate from HIV than those who are in the group where HIV infection is actually the highest. I live UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT WHO I AM, I accept me for who I am. It is time that you accept you for who you are! We are not nasty people, we are not contagious, we are doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers! I am HIV positive and I live a healthy life, I am a person , a whole person and I exist." - 4/3/15



On July 3, 1981 a report on the discovery of the initial outbreak that lead to the AIDS epidemic. The report written by Lawrence K. Altman, was published by the New York Times and at the time it was thought to just be a rare cancer outbreak, over 30 years later we know that isn't the case. In all that time there was not a true form of HIV 101. A 101 that addresses the issue of infection in the heterosexual community in general, especially in the Black & Latino communities on a micro level

This lack of HIV 101 exposes a weakness to challenging stigmas surrounding HIV infection and diagnosis. "Lets be honest about who we are, a lot of us like to fuck raw and then bash those who are open about it. We do not live in a sex positive society and act like sexual puritans. The TRUTH is that we all know someone with an HIV diagnosis and will ignorantly act as if we don't. Let me make a correction in course, HIV 101":

HIV - stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.

AIDS - HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or if your CD4 percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS.

TRANSMISSION - Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by

Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:
- Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex (bottoming) is riskier than insertive anal sex (topping).
- Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior.
- Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex.
Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.

SEROCONVERSION:

- Seroconversion is the period of time during which HIV antibodies develop and become detectable.
- Seroconversion generally takes place within a few weeks of initial infection.
- It is often, but not always, accompanied by flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms are not a reliable way to identify seroconversion or to diagnose HIV infection.


Because of this stigma and lack of education people are being criminalized because of their HIV status due o the unwillingness of the judicial system, state and federal governments to come forward about the fact that one cannot trace his or her source of HIV infection when it comes to random sex partners. 


When I say criminalization of HIV, take it literally! This year the Counter Narrative Project along with myself and a host of others came out in support of Michael Johnson who stood trial for charges of "...one count of recklessly infecting a partner with HIV, one count of attempting to recklessly infect a partner with HIV, and three counts of recklessly exposing partners to HIV." and that "There are many people in this country who still believe, out of ignorance or cruelty, that people with HIV are pariahs who we all need to be protected from. But Michael Johnson is a part of our community and he is not disposable. Far too many young Black gay men receive an HIV diagnosis in this country, and nearly one in three can expect to in their lifetimes. And Missouri’s solution, to a problem they helped create, is prison." When people accuse others of being reckless with their HIV status, one must consider their own recklessness in not asking or protecting themselves before that sex acts they commit.

Government on all levels, specifically the state governments (32 have laws) have implemented or attempted to pass bill criminalizing HIV and with lack of education on the matter. Take for example that just this past spring Senate Bill 779 was introduced by Sen Joan Huffman. The bill would have removed the confidential nature of HIV test results and allow them to be used as evidence in a criminal proceedings.

By: HuffmanS.B. No. 779
(Bonnen of Brazoria)
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to access to certain medical test results in a criminal
proceeding; amending provisions subject to a criminal penalty.
       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
       SECTION 1.  Section 81.103, Health and Safety Code, is
amended by adding Subsections (c-1), (c-2), and (k-1) to read as
follows:
       (c-1)  Subject to Subsection (k-1), a test result is subject
to and may be released or disclosed under a subpoena issued under
Chapter 20 or 24, Code of Criminal Procedure, in a criminal
proceeding.
       (c-2)  Notwithstanding any other law, a person who releases
or discloses a test result in response to a subpoena issued under
Chapter 20 or 24, Code of Criminal Procedure, in a criminal
proceeding is not subject to any criminal or civil liability or
professional disciplinary action for releasing or disclosing the
test result, except in a case of gross negligence or wilful
misconduct.
       (k-1)  Before entering into evidence or otherwise releasing
or disclosing a test result obtained by subpoena under Subsection
(c-1) in a criminal proceeding, the court in which the test result
is to be presented as evidence or otherwise released or disclosed
shall issue a protective order or take other action to limit the
release or disclosure of the test result. For a test result
obtained under a grand jury subpoena, the court responsible for the
grand jury shall issue the order or take other action to limit the
release or disclosure of the test result before the test result is
presented to the grand jury.
       SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2015.
WE MUST take the time to educate EVERYONE about HIV and how it works, that it does not discriminate in seeking a healthy host. We also must respect the privacy of those who are infected and managing life with HIV regardless of celebrity status or lack thereof. Remember that regardless of what you deem to be a "lifestyle choice", no one is deserving of HIV and they damn sure didn't ask for it! Finally, take note that HIV is not a crime and the notion of anyone feeling otherwise including the 32 states that have bigoted laws on their books that question private sexual judgment calls and deems them a criminal act should seek education and counseling immediately.

Advocacy Without Borders gave great talking points that you can use:

1. Using HIV test results in any criminal prosecution makes it appear that HIV is the crime rather than the actual crime being investigated. We need public health solutions to fight HIV and not criminal prosecutions.

2. Criminalizing people because they are HIV positive continues to perpetuate fear, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. Texas does not have an HIV specific criminal statute. Prosecutors should charge the actual crime and not the health status!

3. Treating a medical condition as evidence of a crime is at direct odds with public health campaigns to get as many people as possible tested and, if HIV positive, into treatment. Tests results can’t be used against you if you don’t get tested.

4. There is no evidence that HIV related prosecutions increase disclosure, reduce the spread of HIV or deter the rare acts of intentional transmission.

5. Laws should reinforce science-based public health messages. SB 779 could also be applied against persons charged with crimes involving spitting and biting. There is simply no need to prosecute someone for attempting to transmit HIV through spitting or biting, because that is not how HIV is transmitted.

6. It violates the privacy rights of people living with HIV by permitting confidential medical information to be used in a criminal proceeding. Issuing a protective order at a later stage does not prevent the violation of privacy.

7. HIV is a chronically manageable disease and should not be treated as a deadly weapon. Defining HIV as a deadly weapon further stigmatizes the disease and those living with it.




An Open Letter to Gov. Abbott - Re: #SyrianRefugees

Hello Gov. Abbott,

You Wrote a letter to President Obama:


Here is the thing, you have no power to reject the Obama administration's pledge to accept close to 10,000 Syrian refugees over next year. You directed the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas. Under the Refugee Act of 1980 governors cannot legally block refugees and this means that your hands are tied. I find it funny that you and every other White male Governor (WASP), including Jindal are using the French tragedy to push your Christian agenda. Do remember that The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that and Article VI specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."


You have every right as an American citizen to urge the President "to halt" his "plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States."What you do not have a right to do, is directly refuse Refugees because of your unfounded fear that "American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger." Let me remind you that a refugee is a person who is outside their home country because they have suffered (or feared) persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion; because they are a member of a persecuted social category of persons; or because they are fleeing a war. It is clear that what all you and the 25 other governors are doing is  pushing Ethnocentrism, Racism, White privilegeXenophobia & a host of other irrational forms of discrimination.

Yes, your claim that "The threat posed to Texas by ISIS is very real" has merit. However, you are taking a few bad apples and using them to criminalize Brown bodies who are simply seeking safety. I will leave you with one of your scriptures to let you see what a fool you are being, "You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself" - Lev 19:34....I suppose you want the POTUS to send the National Guard Texas to make sure you accept the refugees, but then you would say that he is invading Texas.



Ethnocentrism - is the belief of superiority is one's personal ethnic group, but it can also develop from racial or religious differences. Ethnocentric individuals believe that they are better than other individuals for reasons based solely on their heritage.

Racism - the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

White privilege (or white skin privilege) - is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in Western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

Xenophobia - intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.

Christian privilege - is the system of advantages bestowed upon Christians in some societies. This system arises out of the presumption that the belief in Christianity is a social norm, leading to the exclusion of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices.

Religious discrimination - is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe. Specifically, it is when adherents of different religions (or denominations) are treated unequally, either before the law or in institutional settings such as employment or housing.
Religious discrimination is related to religious persecution, the most extreme forms of which would include instances in which people have been executed for beliefs perceived to be heretic. Laws which only carry light punishments are described as mild forms of religious persecution or as religious discrimination.

You gets no love - Ashton


Friday, November 13, 2015

#ITLQBM: Bisexuality & The Black Community

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes termed pansexuality.


Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is sexual attraction, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity.

My mother will kill me for telling this story, but she knows that I mean well. When I was a very small child she had a girlfriend who she would be in a partnership with until I was at least eight years old. Throughout their relationship they lived together and at times it became hard to hear people calling my mother a dyke, bulldagger or any other derogatory term one could fathom. I came understand that as my mother carried out her on and off relationship, that she was into men as well...I do have a brother and sister. I didn't know what to call it back then, maybe because the option was either gay or lesbian. The funny thing about being Bi is that people have false sense of understanding that perpetuates the myth that Bi folks are confused, selfish and will fuck anything that walks. This is furthest from the truth, as my mother has just recently married a man that she has been with for over ten years.

Discrimination against our Bi brothers and sisters is rampant and starts in the form of Bi erasure. This erasure was real back then and it is real now! Think on the fact that the words Gay & Lesbian are forms of homosexuality, which denotes the strict same sex nature of the relationships under those tags. Bisexuality is more than sex, and more often than not, Bi folks are monogamous. Crystal Fleming put it best when she wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called #ThisIsLuv: A Black Bisexual Manifesto"I hope #ThisIsLuv can highlight acceptance of LGBT folk in black communities without glossing over significant tensions, homophobia and biphobia. Black bisexual women are often misunderstood, excluded or fetishized. Black bisexual men, on the other hand, are routinely vilified. Who expresses love and support for our black bisexual brothers? Bisexuals comprise over half of LGB-identified people in the United States, yet we are routinely rendered invisible and marginalized. The erasure of bisexual people is particularly problematic for African-Americans, who already face the strain of racism. Bi black people exist at the intersections of many forms of oppression, and this difficult positionality makes it complicated for us to find love. We not only have to deal with homophobia in our families -- we also have to navigate biphobia among black gays and lesbians -- while dealing with racism in the broader LGBT "community." There is also the reality that most "LGBT" spaces are actually not for us. Very often, they are implicitly white centered and/or mostly geared toward gays and lesbians."

To expand on Bisexual Black men being a target of Biphobia, Its seems that all forms of media clump Bi Black men into the Down Low or "DL" category. The sheer amount of anecdotal publishing and portrayals on television don't help at all! This type of media driven Biphobia unfortunately influences the thought process of heterosexual women who possibly will come in contact with a Bisexual man. The whole concept of being "DL" has so many confusing nuances that get unfairly applied to Bi Black men and paints them as whores who can't control their sexual desires, living in a state of sexual confusion, and the primary sources of STDs & STIs. This is furthest from the truth, because I know Black Bi/Queer men who defy all of those lies. They build healthy and fruitful relationships with whoever they are with, monogamously at that. On the other hand women are objectified and treated like sexual objects for their Bisexuality, Crystal Fleming in the same article quoted above she speaks for women way better than I could: "On top of this, bi black women have to deal with sexism and hetero-patriarchy. Some black bisexuals are transgender and experience the violence of transphobia. These multiple burdens might explain why it's particularly difficult for bisexual people to "come out." We are routinely given the "side eye" from multiple communities -- misunderstood, implicitly or explicitly excluded or reduced to exotic sexual objects. We also experience poorer physical and mental health relative to other sexual minorities. It's a lot to deal with."

BOTTOM LINE: stop the Biphobia and respect people for their humanity and ability to love...

Resources:

- http://www.binetusa.org/