Archive for April, 2007

30
Apr
07

You should know about Thembi Ngubane

“My name is Thembi Ngubane and I come from a township outside of Cape Town in South Africa called Khayelitsha. I look taller in these pictures than I really am. I am currently doing a tour of my country speaking about what it is like to live with HIV and AIDS. This all started with an audio diary that I began to keep in 2004 to be broadcast on National Public Radio in the United States. At first I wanted to keep my identity anonymous. But I began to love the diary and it became part of me. At the same time people around me were dying of HIV and AIDS so I felt that I had to disclose. I was invited on a five city speaking tour in the US in 2006 presenting to high schools, colleges, community centers and even for places like CNN and MTV. At this point I saw people”s positive response and I decided that this documentary must also reach people South Africa. Reaching people with my story in South Africa is the most important thing I have done. This is because in my country everyone is either infected or affected by this disease. This blog is a recollection of this two week tour of my country.” Click here for Thembi’s Blog

25
Apr
07

Young African American Women and HIV

 from http://www.advocatesforyouth.org

Also available in [PDF] format.

The HIV and AIDS epidemic has disproportionately affected the African American community across time, although rates of HIV infection and AIDS were relatively rare among black women in the early years of the epidemic.[1] Now however, HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect black women, especially young black women.[1] This document looks at some of the factors—behavioral and non-behavioral—that put young black women at disproportionate risk of HIV. It also recommends policies and programs to assist young black women to protect their health and save their lives.

Biological Factors Affect Young Women’s Risk for HIV Infection

Women’s reproductive biology puts them at greater risk of HIV compared to men. For purely biological reasons, a woman is about twice as likely as a man to contract HIV infection during unprotected vaginal intercourse with an infected partner.[1] Moreover, a young woman is even more vulnerable to infection, due to her less mature reproductive tract.[2]

The same biological factors heighten women’s susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) other than HIV, including those that cause genital lesions,[3] and teenage women have much higher rates of some STIs than do teenage males. For example in 2004, the gonorrhea rate among 15- to 19-year-old females was 700 cases per 100,000 compared to 321 cases per 100,000 teenage males.[4] Moreover, women’s reproductive biology also means that STIs are more likely to remain undiagnosed in women than in men. Delayed diagnosis and treatment increase young women’s risk of HIV by three to five times over the risk associated with prompt diagnosis and treatment.[2,3]

Young black women are at highest risk of STIs, compared to other young women. In 2004 for example, the gonorrhea rate among black women ages 15 through 19 was 14 times greater than among white females the same age (2,791 cases per 100,000 black female teens versus 202 per 100,000 white female teens). Among women ages 20 through 24, the gonorrhea rate was 12 times greater among black women than among white women (2,565 and 209 per 100,000, respectively). The rates of primary and secondary syphilis were 16 times higher among black females ages 15 through 19 than among their white peers (6.5 and 0.4 cases per 100,000, respectively). Among women ages 20 through 24, the rate was 15 times higher among black than white women (13.4 and 0.9 per 100,000, respectively).[4]

Click here for the whole report.

20
Apr
07

Life Force needs some Life Support…and you can HELP!

Life Force May No Longer Be With You
from POZ Magazine – www.poz.com

Visit www.lifeforceinc.org to donate and for more infomation about Life Force.

March 9, 2007

Life Force May No Longer Be With You

by Lucile Scott

Having weathered a decade-long drought of realistic Hollywood portrayals of AIDS in America, the AIDS community is cheering HBO’s new film about HIV, Life Support, which debuts tomorrow (March 10) at 8 pm ET. So are the critics. However, the Brooklyn AIDS Service Organization that inspired the tale, Life Force: Women Fighting AIDS, was preparing to shut down many of its counseling and peer education programs just as HBO was rolling out the red carpet for the film’s New York premiere. Guests included its star and executive producer, Oscar nominee Queen Latifah; another of its producers, Oscar winner Jamie Foxx; and other celebs.

Life Force Executive Director Gwen Carter reports that the loss of a New York City Department of Health grant has forced her to start laying off workers beginning March 15. “I am going to have to start letting our peer educators go,” Carter says. For 18 years, Life Force has recruited and trained HIV positive Brooklyn women, most of them African Americans or Latinas, to head out into the borough’s grittier neighborhoods and spread the HIV word. It also offers testing and support services for people with HIV and their families. “There is a trend toward funding larger organizations that are a one-stop shop, but don’t have people from the community,” says Carter. “We believe that people accept information from others who look and talk like them, and the majority of our educators are from the community and are HIV positive.”

The movie’s writer and director, Nelson George, based the plot on the life of his HIV positive sister, Andrea Williams, who does outreach for Life Force. The film ends with a shot of Williams herself walking the streets of Brooklyn as a voiceover states that the lady who lent her life story to the film is still out in the streets, educating people and handing out condoms. But for how much longer? “If Life Force closes its doors, the black community will be missing a face on AIDS awareness,” says comedian Tony Rock, who plays an HIV positive man in the film. “And people seem to think that if something isn’t right in their face, it doesn’t affect them.”

With all this high profile publicity, can’t the organization get funds elsewhere? Susan Nowak, a spokesperson for HBO, says, “Our goal is to educate people about the issues, not to fund-raise. We could give them millions of dollars but tomorrow they would still be in the same situation.” Actually, it would take $193,000, the amount the organization lost in city funding, to get Life Force through to the end of the year. (Carter says Queen Latifah and her charitable foundation have given the group $5,000; HBO gave it $3,500 in March of 2006.) For now, the group has enough funds from the Centers for Disease Control—slightly less than the year before—to cover testing and other basic services, but not counseling or outreach. “It’s not about if you do the work well, but if your proposal is well written,” Carter says of the grant approval process. “Smaller community-based organizations don’t have time to write the proposals and can’t pay people to do it.”

Indeed, Rachel Miller, senior deputy director of HIV Care Services at Medical and Health Research Association, which reviews grant proposals for the NYC Department of Health, says the grant decision was based on a roughly 20-page proposal answering multiple highly nuanced questions. “Sometimes the grant writing is not that strong,” she says, adding that Life Force failed to earn the 70 points necessary for a contract renewal. “We liked Life Force,” she says. “But this is what happens during the re-bid of government funding. You win some and you lose some.” She says this year NYC has decided to give fewer grants of larger sums, with the number available dropping from 70 to 39. In addition, she says, there is also less money available for AIDS organizations overall than there has been in the past.

Meanwhile, Carter reports, the peer educators are meeting and strategizing to find ways to keep putting their prevention message out in the streets. One free condom at a time.

19
Apr
07

invisible man

Check out this great clip and ask yourself the question. 

No one should feel like a non-citizen, ignored by society.  It’s easy to feel like you have no prejudice when there is no one in the group that you [fear/are uncomfortable with] around.  Would you treat your co-worker differently if you found out they have HIV?  Would you eat the food they cooked at a pot luck?  Would think twice before shaking their hand?  These are the real questions that we hope we would answer in love and understanding, but sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves.  It’s ok if HIV and Aids is makes you uncomfortable.  If you can be honest about that, you can move towards being more comfortable and understanding.  Denial doesn’t help anyone.

18
Apr
07

A League of His Own – Everybody’s All-American


POZ Magazine – May 2007

A League of His Own

by Lucile Scott

A positive, former all-American football star gets drafted to another team with a goal: The Campaign to end AIDS

On a hot South Carolina night filled with torrential rain and winds so strong they buffet the cows in the neighboring pastures, a small crowd packs into a rural wooden church. Larry Bryant, 40, walks to the front with a reserved but confident stride, fitting for this former all-American football player. He begins to speak with a dignified intensity that calms and focuses the onlookers as the rain drums down on the roof. “No one can advocate for HIV positive people better than HIV positive people,” he says, his rhythmic rhetoric building to a quiet climax.Bryant’s South Carolina stop-off was one of many he made in 2005 to enlist positive people and AIDS advocates from around the nation to caravan across the country that November. They converged on Washington, DC, in the inaugural national action of the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA), an ongoing endeavor conceived by New York AIDS organization Housing Works (HW) and modeled after Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. While the march was not as large as many of its organizers had hoped, Bryant believes that it reinvigorated grassroots American AIDS activism after what he calls “a decade of complacency and denial.” He adds, “There has been a demographic change [in HIV positive people since the ’80s] and now the people most affected are the poorest and most marginalized [as opposed to white gay men].” Bryant says, however, that while these people have the most need, they often lack both the resources to advocate and access to the AIDS powers that be. He’s working to spread that power out. “C2EA is not [driven] by big names but by the woman in Mississippi who was discriminated against by a nurse—and by the woman from Florida who was fired because she is positive.”

Before Bryant could call the plays of 21st century AIDS action, he had to overcome his own fear of stigma, which kept him mum about his positive status for nearly 20 years. At 18, Bryant entered Norfolk State University in Virginia on a football scholarship. He was a defensive back in high school and college and had been pegged as a top NFL draft pick. In 1986, toward the end of his freshman year, he tested positive for HIV when trying to donate blood. The doctor merely told him he couldn’t donate due to the presence of HIV antibodies, and sent him on his way without counseling.

A long-term nonprogressor who has never taken an HIV med, Bryant hasn’t had problems with his physical health. But HIV did take its emotional toll. He quit football and school and moved home—and didn’t speak a word about HIV to anyone for over five years. “The year I was diagnosed two people in Florida got their house burned down because they were positive. I just sat around waiting to die,” he says. He finally disclosed to his parents. Eventually he became a preschool teacher in North Carolina and got involved with the AIDS community, without disclosing to those around him. In 2004, he spoke up. “I needed to be me. Silence takes a lot of energy.” He also realized that announcing his status as an HIV positive black man who was infected through heterosexual sex could corrode stigma and spark awareness, especially among the African-American community, which now accounts for 50% of new U.S. infections. “I got sick of hearing people complain about what’s not happening, instead of hearing about what we can do to solve problems,” he says. So he quit his teaching job and got a gig doing community outreach at a Houston AIDS organization.

Six months after the move, Housing Works’ cofounder Charles King met Bryant at a Houston rally, and the former all-American found himself getting recruited once again, this time to help mobilize people across the south to join up with C2EA. “He had a lot of leadership qualities and we needed someone positive people could relate to, particularly African Americans who were often not connected to existing advocacy groups,” says HW executive Robert Cordero.

After C2EA, HW appointed Bryant its National Field Organizer and stationed him in DC. “Grassroots activism is messy and chaotic,” says Cordero. “But with patience and by sheer force of will, Larry has gained the trust of local AIDS activists and PWAs.” He adds that in the past, reps from huge urban AIDS organizations would sweep into smaller locales, offer assistance and then leave. By contrast, Bryant gives people the resources to help themselves. Over the past year, he has traveled the country setting up grassroots movements in places that previously lacked the necessary infrastructure, linking disparate efforts into a united national front. Then he brings their messages back to DC to advocate for them with Senate staffers on the Hill. “I work like 23 hours a day,” he says. Cecelia Bryant, 59, says of her son’s new game, “It shattered him when he wasn’t able to play football anymore. This shows me that he has finally accepted himself.”

And Bryant has no plans to turn in this new jersey. He hopes to push AIDS into the 2008 election-year spotlight and is currently rounding up caravans across the nation to hit their respective state capitals this summer—using various rowdy tactics to push for housing, meds or whatever is most needed in their area. He says of the grueling glory of his grassroots achievements: “If we don’t make noise and piss people off, it’s impossible to make Edwards or Obama or Clinton understand the urgency. We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

15
Apr
07

Life on the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride as an HIV+ Participant


From – www.aidslifecycle.org/hivpositive/
This is just one of the stories…click the link above to read more

Manuel Monzon
Rider #1865

I want to share some stories from the ride with you. Last year I only trained 6 weeks before the big ride to L.A. Beforehand, I was thinking, “How am I going to ride 7 days?” First, I only had positive thoughts, “You are going to be ok.” “Everything is perfect in my world, my mind and my body work properly and at optimumly.” “You can do it.” I was riding peacefully and harmoniously, enjoying the beautiful life we have, the different sceneries: big cities, forest, and the sea. The weather was cold, warm, and windy and at the end of the each day I was feeling stronger. When I arrived in L.A., from the bottom of my heart I said, “Thanks to God and thanks to my sponsors for giving their unconditional support and for making my dreams come true.” You are a special angel to me. Together we are making a difference in our communities. Thanks.

Last October, I went to see my doctor because I losing movement in my legs. He gave me a new diagnosis, osteoperosis, an HIV side-effect. It was worse in my left side and I was in shock. As I left the hospital, tears came to my eyes and I thought, “Where is my life going?” “Will I be stuck in a wheelchair?” My heart was broken and sad, but I had a strong feeling in the bottom of my heart. I told myself, “Manuel, would you like to be in a wheelchair or do you want to see yourself on a bike?” I repeated the answer to myself, “On a bike.”

That night I signed up to participate in AIDS/Lifecycle 5 and I must raise a minimum of $2,500 to participate in this event. – Support Manuel and other…visit www.aidslifecycle.org

12
Apr
07

Living with Aids in Holland

Just browsing Yahoo answers I found this today…

http://www.artbeacon.com/UrbanArt/ – DL Perry Guy Santillo,
I am an artist living with AIDS. When I got sick I was living in Holland, whereas I had a kiosk in the centrum of Amsterdam and the Artist Market. Now that I am feeling better I put up a website about 1 year ago. Its still under construction. However, the prices are negotiable, in order to make room for new work. If you see anything let me know, we can chat. All pieces are standard frame. Always like to hear feedback.

Send some feedback!!!