Friday, August 28, 2009

On point Round Up

Throughout this week, I've kept this forum teeming with news from Village Voices from near and far. It's so important to me that I keep promoting the fact that this medium has been designed to interactivity, interaction and user friendly for the GLBTQ community and beyond. Since Central City has no actual hard copy media outlet, COP:24/7 has by acclamation somewhat filled that niche. It's is our desire to continue to be a "gatekeeper" of information, updates, links, commentary, pod casting, video and sometimes just plain old stuff for our readers. Your voices are boldly encouraged and welcomed to this table. We are fortunate to live in a land where speaking our minds can be done openly and honestly.

CDC Confab in the ATL: I was glad to know that my call for "voices" was met by the team that attended the HIV/AIDS prevention conference in Atlanta last week. As I've learned Arkansas was well represented at the conference including, ADH's HIV/AIDS Section Chief Kevin Dedner and Liz Gates, JCSSI's MSM program facilitator, Freddie Williams and a delegation from Black Community Developers. However, with all these faces in the place, what struck me was the fact that I don't recall any local mainstream news coverage. Of course, COP:24/7 loves scooping the news, but somehow all this participation needs to be known by clients, end users and the public at large. Especially if their is a "perception" problem or attitude that this dilemma has a lackluster priority. In the meantime, Brotha & Sister's dynamic duo romped the convention halls and reported back to this forum. A huge High Five to these individuals who brought the info to CorneliusOnpoint first! It's unedited and is the observations of the composer.

Here's Part Two:
Tuesday was our last day of sessions, so we wanted to get the most bang for the buck. We went to the Special Listening Session Male-to-Male Sexual Transmission of HIV. Conference participants shared their views and findings with the CDC leaders. The statements here were reverberated in every conversation. THERE HAS TO BE A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO PEOPLE AS OPPOSED TO ONLY SEEING THEIR DISEASE! This is stated over and over again with those that have been working in this arena for a while. How can we honestly encourage people to take care of themselves if the only reason we pay attention to them is because of a communicable disease. What about the fact that they need shelter and food? What about the fact that they aren’t educated because they were teased too much in school? Why is it that we can’t see this whole person as opposed to this virus? Okay, I will stop my tirade for now.
My next session was clearly to support our present grant. The title was, “How Many MSM Are There and What are the Determinants of MSM Transmission.” Our present grant proposes that we can give a better estimate of how many LGBTQ/SGL people there are in Arkansas. For many years the estimate of the number of LGBT/SGL people in communities was based on 1% of the population. Then it became 3 percent. The methodology Brothas & Sistas recently used indicates Arkansas has at least 9% of the population being Same Gender Loving. I personally believe that this too is a gross underestimation but as of now, this is what the numbers state. If there is anyone out there that has done some research in this area please let me know or if it sounds like something you would like to work on, give us a call.

“MSM Subgroups” was about those that are 40 years and older, their internet use along with drug use. This was my second time hearing about the Viagra + Ecstasy combination. It was very graphic in nature and explained how the older gentlemen would attract the younger ones because of the younger’s physiological needs (i.e. food, clothing and shelter). The unknowing younger man meets the older one on line and is promised a need filled. “Chicken Hunting” and “Fishing” are the terms for this behavior. What’s really interesting is this can and does take place more than one time per night per hunter. As if my mouth wasn’t hanging open at this point, then we go into Leather /Sadomasochism/Bondage world. Okay, this is when I realized how far away from home I was. Surely, Arkansas didn’t have such a community. Of course this was listed as a subgroup that had very high risk behaviors but because of the demographics of the group, they are more likely to practice safer. This is only true if there is restraint in the levels of sadomasochism. And from what I understand, on a global basis, there is no bottom to the levels.
I was on my way to one of the Cross-Cutting Theme Sessions entitled, “From the Inside Out: Personal Experiences of Stigma and Discrimination-Disclosure, Coping and Self-Esteem.” I only caught the last part of this because by this time the networking had intensified, people were being recognized and I ran into Dazon Diallo of “Sister Love” ( Atlanta, whom I had met many years ago when she was first starting her prevention for women program. She informed me that her program was set to become a DEBI (Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Intervention) and that she would be presenting at the next conference. Dazon has replicated her program worldwide so I asked her to come to Arkansas and provide us with a training session. I then ran into Lewis who had taught a capacity building workshop in Pine Bluff a few months ago. He stated he was scheduled to return soon. I see Sandra Mitchell, Deborah Bell and about three more people from BCD, Kevin Dedner and Liz Gates from the Arkansas Health Department, and Patricia Minor from the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. We all promise to get together before it’s time to leave. This was HIV Mecca!!

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