Monday, February 23, 2009

Last week I posted information concerning the 2009 GMHA, and it's tenants that are designed to address the continuing "call to action" to the national electorate unilaterally. Meanwhile as the US grapples with it's economic ditch witch and the burgeoning crisis in access to health care across the board. In Arkansas these issues are very real, deserve our full attention, and demand our own clarion call to policy makers which has lacked serious motion, pointed direction and sure footed organizing. Recently, I've noticed a variety of Net postings inquiring about POZ networking, action groups, task forces and support entities that echo many past endeavors that went bust. Often those groundswells such as Positive Voices, ADAP Working group and "task force this n that" were promoted with great promise, only to devolve into pools of lost opportunities and wasted vital dollars that are not easy to recoup. Not to mention the agitation of those volunteers and supporters who bemoan the fact that another organization has failed to achieve it's purpose. I've been to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. lobbying our Representatives for additional AIDS funding, only to find staffers that state that they simply do not hear in mass from the Arkansas POZ community concerning issues or policies. Yes, they hear from a few individuals, and they know who they are, but the majority of the stakeholders have simply been overtly silent. Is this silence because they don't know how to connect the dots? Do they believe that some one else is looking out for their best interest? Or have some concluded that it's just beyond their realm of reality? I'm not often broadsided from what I hear. However, I was totally awestruck from a POZ individual whom I had assisted with getting assistance information, who boldly stated to my face that "I've got mine ( disability check) and it's my time to travel and see friends..." Wow, what a concept? I accept that everyone has the free will to chart their own course, nevertheless I ponder how prevalent is this mindset and it's possible impact as related by words from Michael Cook, CEO/President of Howard Brown Health Center who got my attention with his statement that,"as we move away from the sexual behavior-centered "crisis" mentality of the 80s and 90s and towards the reality where most gay men do grow older, we need to sharpen our focus." I can certainly attest that we certainly have some sharpening to do and quickly. Got comments, personal stories, observations or counterpoints, then click the comment section and let's hear it. I'm always ready whenever you are...
Here are the final recommendations from the agenda. You can particpate and get more information. Email your endorsement

3. Fund campaigns to combat homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. In partnership with our communities we call for local, state and federal funding, community foundation funding, faith community funding, and other support to combat ignorance, hatred and misunderstanding. We must address prejudice and build bridges across diverse communities; increase family, school, and community acceptance for LGBT youth; reduce stigma in health care and other services; and overcome discrimination in the workplace. We call for adequate funding for these programs, and we are ready to lead these efforts.
4. Eliminate No Promo Homo. We recognize that the delivery of culturally appropriate and responsive health information is dependent on setting and context. Grounded in science-based evidence, we insist on being allowed to speak within our communities effectively. Therefore, we demand the removal of state and federal legislation that serve no scientific purpose. For example, we should immediately repeal Section 2500 of the federal Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. Section 300ee(b), (c), and (d)) that does not allow the “promotion” of any type of sexual behaviour – heterosexual or homosexual. This language debilitates programs that are funded to reach sexually active adults of all backgrounds.
5. Create an Office for LGBT Health at HHS. We request the appointment of a Senior Advisor or Office for LGBT Health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services to provide focused and sustained leadership and guidance for HHS, and other departments and agencies with connections to LGBT health. We stand ready to join advisory panels at HHS, and other departments and agencies, to complement, or in preparation, for this Office.
6. Develop and implement a strategy to reduce health disparities among gay, bisexual and transgender men through direct programmatic funding. With leadership from a Senior Advisor or Office of LGBT Health, funding from both governmental and private sources would be coordinated with the goals of reducing disparities in the health of gay, bisexual and transgender men - including HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and dependency (for example, cigarette smoking and methamphetamine), mental health and other social issues, and violence victimization (including hate violence and intimate partner violence). Improving access to culturally competent, responsive, quality health care must be prioritized through community specific efforts or legislation for universal health care coverage.
7. Implement and fund sexual health and wellness campaigns directed towards the gay, bisexual and transgender men’s communities utilizing an array of public and private resources. Through both public and private sources, these campaigns should ensure that both LGBT and non-LGBT health and social service organizations support male-to-male sexuality, and bisexuality, while promoting sexual health and overall wellness for the gay, bisexual and transgender men’s communities. Distinct populations must be focused on individually and should include African Americans, Latinos, and Asian/Pacific Island men, older men, men with disabilities, men who have primary partners, serodiscordant partners, men in recovery, young men and others.8. Develop and implement a strategy to remove barriers to health care among transgender people through legal changes and education of medical and health insurance professionals. We must revise the standards of care for gender transition to replace the "gate keeping" model with a model of informed consent, and we must end the discriminatory practices that deny health insurance to transgender people and that deny coverage for certain procedures that are covered for non-trans people.

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