Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Which Way is Up Wednesday 1.0

The Christmas countdown continues with this mid-week post that did a "double take" as I reviewed the e-box brimming with items from A to Z. In the meantime, not only was the box filled with some of the usual musing, updates, spam and otherwise. Also there was the hot topic concerning some interesting maneuvers involving the ADH and decisions voted through the Community Planning Group that this forum must elaborate upon. So fasten your seat belt, grid your loins, hold you nose or whatever it takes to get through another provocative post from CorneliusOnPoint! Let's see what's up....

And the Scavenger Hunt Winner IS...

COP 24/7 had an light bulb moment a week ago while being motivated by CBS's The Amazing Race program finale. Unfortunately I had not actually been following the program since I'm not really into that type of programming. Political Junkie, yes, but "game boy," not to so much is more my drift. However the finale was quite intriguing to say the least and while watching the final contestants race around the ATL in search of the last of the clue for the Million dollar pay off, I thought that concept could be adapted to an HIV prevention message opportunity. Viola! How about using the recent billboard campaign in a scavenger hunt while offering a small prize. I didn't know what to expect but gave it a try. The winner was Amber W. of Pine Bluff, Arkansas who went in search of the billboards and submitted photo's to prove it. Eureka!  Another light switch went off as I  thought that if this exercise had been strategically developed the impact could have been so much greater with actual tangible results that could have penetrated even deeper into target groups. I've attended many meetings around the country where I've been witness to so many unique and creative means developed to "message" about HIV and AIDS. Many of the trainers at these "think tanks" demand that participants "go deep" and encourage us to "think outside the box." A former employer use to ask managers to have at least one B-HAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) per day for our department which was terrific motivator to make one believe that the sky is the limit. At this point in the prevention message challenge we now know that most of the efforts have not been successful hence additional incidence rates. The box from which past ideas have been utilized must be deconstructed and reconstructed to interact with the targeted subjects. We now live in a age of "I- this and I- that" gadgets that talk, locate, track and by damn it, INFORM users from those view screens. The very view screen that Amber took the pictures and forwarded them to this medium is the gateway that needs to be explored and exploited. If COP 24/7 can take this creative approach then surely there are others who should be able to discern that doing the "same old, same old" can not fully message to today's tech savvy and Internet bound stakeholders. Congrats to Amber for taking the time to play the game. Look for your next chance to be not only a winner but educated as well. Stay tuned...

ADH, CPG and COP 24/7 Trifecta

As most of you know COP 24/7 often weighs in on a variety of subjects with all attempts at " keeping it real" while fleshing out the situations and those involved. My commitment and connection to the ongoing HIV/AIDS dilemma has been front and center. My passion surrounding this health crisis often takes me in numerous directions while often encountering actions and reactions that tweak our senses. Again, COP 24/7 has entered the frey of the recent mash up of the local Community Planning Group's decision to purchase the periodical "Our Lives, Our Stories," featuring the stories of women living with HIV. It was produced by community based organization The Living Affected Corporation's The HIV Plus Club program via grant from Tibotech Pharma. Although there had been conflict of interest concerns, it was decided that such concerns were not warranted and that the CPG viewed the book as a valuable prevention tool which also included a provider listing and other community links. After debate and futher discussion it was affirmed by a unanamious vote to proceed with the transaction. Despite all interested parties being present during the proceedings. LA Corp was  later notified by HIV AIDS Section Chief T. Long that the CPG decision had been rebuffed and would not move forward due to stated cost concerns. According to other sources there is suppose to be more to the entire affair which this forum in on the hunt for that angle. However, COP 24/7 was listening in to the monthly call as this proceeding took place and pondered just how this entire matter ended up approved to happen by a self governing body in one moment and then by some other means the project is subjected to another internal review then scrapped. After learning of this malfunction, COP 24/7 rolled with a letter questioning the outcome in support of the CPG's decision. Since our letter went viral, this forum has heard from those who had a chance to review the document. At this point, most are also bemused at this about face as well as the perception that what appeared to an empowering act may not have exactly been what they thought. Other's have shared that the letter amounted to a "slam" on ADH while decrying it as "finger pointing"  or "a posion communion." COP 24/7 has been seen as a gadfly or airing the dirty laundry but actually my position as a "provacutuer" is just what this commuity needs. We need not just this forum but as many voices as possible making their concerns known and making noise to policy makers and the administrative types who may be dismissive in attitude. If I get the facts wrong or mis-stated then I am not beyond retractions but in our true fashion this forum speaks openly and honestly to matters that not only interest this forum but our readers as well. To add context and a FYI on what was said, I am reprinting that letter as sent 12/20/11. It is unedited or altered.

Dear Community Planning Group Members and Supporters,

On December 9th, during a regularly scheduled meeting, attending members of the CPG were engaged in discussion concerning supporting the purchase of the book/linkage to care tool, "Our Lives, Our Story" produced by the Living Affected Corporation. The members of this body robustly discussed this matter citing pros and cons of its utilization as a prevention tool to be disseminated to community based organizations forging work with women affected or infected with HIV/AIDS. After discussion was completed, it was affirmed through a unanimous vote that 249 copies of the book would be purchased for $4,980.00, as a line item purchase from the group’s year end budget. All conflict of interest parties were excluded from the official vote. There was no further discussion and as you may have thought, the matter was seen as confirmed. As of December, 19th, it seems that your time, discussion, consideration and vote meant nothing.

Today, Ms. Tina Long, ADH Section Chief notified the CEO, Diedra Levi of The Living Affected Corporation that the decision to secure the book, "Our Lives, Our Story," made by the Community Planning Group had been "vetoed" by health department officials. Her explanation was that ADH could produce the item at a lower cost. The example given was that their Annual Report cost less than $5.00 to print.

If the Community Planning Group is an independent body complete with leadership and structure per the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, then by what authority does the Arkansas Department of Health have to usurp the power of the group to fulfill its vision and assessment of what's needed within the HIV/ AIDS community or its stake-holders? During the course of this meeting of which Ms. Long was present, at no time was there any interaction from her as to the issue of purchasing this item as being problematic. If such an issue was apparent, then certainly this should have been brought to the attention all who voted for in favor of this action, if not during the meeting certainly within a minimum of 24 hours. Especially since the aforementioned publication was already placed in production by an outside vendor. Furthermore, this continues to fuel the premise of a dysfunctional and pervasive ineptness of this section of the Department of Health. This action along with other lackluster efforts supports the fact this section has no viable intentions of embracing basic sound decisions or directives from an entity sanctioned by its lifeline authority, the Center for Disease Control. All of this merits a vote of "No Confidence" from our vantage point but what has also been perceived by the HIV/AIDS community at large not only presently but over the years. Most members of the Community Planning Group abhor the position that our involvement is considered a checked off item for this departments "to do list," in this smoke and mirror charade for appearances sake.

In response to this action, The Community Planning Group should demand a full accounting of this decision in writing to be a part of the permanent record and insist that the person or persons who finalized this decision make a formal appearance before this body at our next regularly scheduled meeting, January 13, 2012 to further explain not only this direct offense to our decision but offer clarity as to the relationship of the CPG to the Arkansas Department of Health. We believe that this matter is of such a magnitude that we should also include a notation to the CDC Project Manager, CDC Consultants, Legislative Representatives Tracy Steele, Linda Chesterfield and Kathy Webb, our press contacts, community allies such as Arkansas HIV/AIDS Consumer Advisory Board, American Civil Liberties Union, Arkansas Public Policy Counsel and the Health Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School.

In closing, if this issue can't be mutually satisfying for all parties involved, we call for those members involved with the Community Planning Group to cease participation and appeal to the Center for Disease Control for a full and exhaustive investigation of the HIV/STD/ Hep C Section to the adherence of policies and initiatives mandated. Thank you for listening and we await your response.


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