Monday, December 31, 2012

Dashing through the Darkness

Let there be light was the mantra that I kept thinking as "day four" passed and my patience as well as my partner was being tested. However, it was not our first rodeo of being in the dark and dealing with Mother Nature's wintry wrath that lasted some five days!  Well, its over and done for now and we go on and actually the better for it. It taught me that not only due I have true grit but willing to be the true captain of my ship. During these times we learn just what we are made of or not made of when it comes to survival of the fitness. I kept imagining just how those pioneers did it day in and day out with no thoughts that the "lights" are just out until the power come takes care of it. What we both learned was that as partners we stick it out together and that's what relationships are made of. Now on to 2013 as COP 24/7 shakes a tail feather and gives itself a refresh including embracing new gadgets, the return of pod casting and anything else I can find that will keep your attention or act as coduit with a message attached.  Thanks to all who have stayed around and kept checking out our unique brand of news, views, observations, opinions and so much more. Our motto for the coming year is "taking it to the extreme in 2013!" Come follow us as we continue to grow and define our place in the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Remember to Use Your Mobile Phones Safely!

As we move toward 2013, we at will continue to encourage you to use mobile technology and new media to extend the reach of your HIV/AIDS efforts and to discuss how the U.S. government’s Digital Strategy is making a difference in how people find health information, today and into the future.
But, as many people are traveling on the road at this time of year, we also wanted to remind you not to drive while texting, reading, or looking up information on your smartphone.
Mobile phones are becoming increasingly powerful tools in helping us to manage and protect our health. You’ll learn more about the use of mobile devices in the response to HIV/AIDS in the new year. (

Trends to Watch in 2013

As we anticipate the next big thing in the use of new media and emerging technologies to support HIV/AIDS and other health care efforts, we’ve asked experts and thought leaders across the Federal and private sectors to predict the trends to watch in 2013. Here’s what we heard them say.
  • Together we will declare (and encourage) change:
    As called for in the New Media Declaration, more and more individuals and organizations will declare that new media and emerging technologies are critical in helping them to connect, create, listen, learn, and engage, and will ask their stakeholders and/or clients for ideas on how new media and emerging technologies may help extend the reach of their HIV/AIDS program
  • Mobile apps and responsive design: The Digital Government Strategy states that Federal agencies should provide content to the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce “anytime, anywhere, on any device.” In 2012, we saw an increase in responsive design (including in our own website and blog) as well as an increase in the development of smartphone apps. In 2013, agencies and organizations will continue to grow in their understanding of apps and responsive design.
  • Apps to track health: In 2013, people will increase their connection to their health through the use of mobile apps such as the iStayHealthy app for people living with HIV which allows users to track medications, set reminders, and chart the effects of HIV treatment on their health.
  • Social gaming and wearable devices: While social gaming, smartphones, and wearable devices (miniature electronic devices worn on the user’s wrist or other parts of the body) have been around for years, these devices and health information will be increasingly tied into social networks, and more people will compete to see who can walk the most steps, drop the most pounds, or otherwise meet their health goals.
  • A picture (and an infographic) will be worth a thousand words: In 2012, there was an astounding growth in the use of photo-sharing and social networking tools such as Instagram and Pinterest. In 2013, agencies and organizations will increasingly put a face to their messages by sharing photos and images. They will also continue to explore infographics to share information.
  • Information is personal: As virtual workspaces become just as crowded as physical spaces, it is critical to ensure that our communication efforts are targeted and easily accessible to the populations we are trying to reach.
  • Data is king (or queen): In 2013 we will see individuals, agencies, organizations, and companies increasingly using data to drive strategy and make decisions, both on personal and organizational levels.
Thanks to Prudence Goforth, Web Communications and New Media Director at Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Venton Jones, Communications and Education Manager at the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition Exit Disclaimer, Oriol Gutierrez, Editor-in-Chief, POZ Exit Disclaimer, Miguel Gomez, Director, and others who shared their thoughts to help us to develop this post.
From everyone at, we wish you a very happy New Year! Please tell us your ideas for things to watch for in 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The End is Near, Part Two

COP 24/7 Special
Forum Founder Recalls and Speaks Volumes

It's Christmas Eve 2012 and the only impending gloom and doom is that pesky "Fiscal Cliff" mess that just won't go away. What a Christmas gift that would be from this lame duck, do nothing Congress. Can anyone really believe that this body is the "brightest and best" elected folks to supposedly do the business of the country. Is anybody wondering why these folks keep get elected to show up to scuttlebutt, rebut, obstruct, filibuster or act as bustas on all levels. As one of those "American People" that they allegedly know so well, I'm over it. I'm not suggesting a run on the government, but maybe all them should be pushed over the fiscal cliff and we be done with the lot of them. Crazy as that sound, we are temporarily stuck with these folks until the new Congress arrives in 2013, which I believe might not be much better. Until then we wait as the clock ticks down on whatever deal gets done and the New Year rolls out. It's been one amazing year for COP 24/7 as I've kept it hot, live and otherwise for the last 52 weeks and counting.

This year we crossed the 1000 mark in items posted to this forum. Yes my pretties, I've been at it for over six years making COP 24/7 the longest running LGBTQ blog in Arkansas! Just how did we do it is often beyond me not to mention eye opening to those of you whom keep coming back for more of carrying on. COP 24/7 has covered it all and then some as we've tackled all the top tier issues from LGBTQ economics to urging our readers to be pro-active instead of reactive to the policies and procedures that directly impact their lives.

Recently I heard from several avid readers whom shared with me the reasons that they either "liked" or had a distaste for my viewpoints. As a provocateur, I feel its my obligation to at least give a hearing to those whom want to engage me whether in e-mail or in person. One individual said that he had a negative feeling about this forum because he felt that I was extremely "critical" of  situations or individuals highlighted. I appeared to be shortsighted and obviously bias in my thoughts because I had made up my mind in a "judge and jury" manner while not perhaps considering other factors. Point well taken.

However, subsequently the same individual said that in hindsight they decided that actually they had taken some of what was said out of context meanwhile coming to the conclusion that what COP 24/7 has actually offered was "constructive criticism" that they had internalized from an "personal attack" position when in all actuality it was a clear observation that they had decided not to consider. I assured them that often times saying what needs to said doesn't make the medicine go down any sweeter. My views are based in my genuine concern about a variety of situation that have been constants in the LGBTQ community and beyond.

If no one raises any voice about "what's really going on" then most of our issues, dilemmas or problems will not receive any attention or action. Am I suppose the believe that complacency and quietness is suppose to suffice as the systems around me make decision for me without me or you?  My angst and anger has been rooted in the fact that now 30 years since I began being engaged in the "community" I can only see marginal progress. Sure we have plenty of venues trying to offer activities, but no matter the effort there's still little to no participation. I informed the dear reader that even when I've asked for comment or written contributions to this forum nothing came forth.

Other's have come and gone, yet COP 24/7 has never waned from calling it as I see it while demanding those whom disagree to bring the facts for further discussion. In the conclusion of our discussion, the reader agreed that I've been open and accessible but that they had not taken the time to think through my words instead they had taken a "reactionary" stance instead of the opportunity to learn from what was being said. I have found this to be the case from many of you who have taken me to task for my insights or overviews.

Individual number two had a different viewpoint and wanted to inform me that they were among my "shadow readers" whom don't subscribe or "follow me" publicly but perhaps "bookmark" the site for review. They cited that they found COP 24/7 to have "courage" to speak openly and candidly about all of the subjects contained on the site. They were steadfast that the lack of "gay media" in Arkansas has not gotten any real support from those whom keep demanding it. We agreed that if others felt that they wanted to offer a "counterpoint" to COP 24/7 then where's there blog or new media item. I told them that I've always been encouraging to anyone wanting to join the conversation. I further shared that a year or so ago I had even offered to allow "anyone" to come produce this forum without any interference. Got absolutely no takers or anyone even remotely interested in taking on the task.

And so we go forward into 2013 doing what I can to spotlight and highlight issues of importance or interest of readers. Its not easy speaking truth, nor trying to communicate to a "community" that in a most recent exercise we found that we are not certain exactly "who makes up this community." I've asked this same tired question over and over and yet as I hit five decades of life I still have no clearer understanding. One thing that I do know is that since its inception COP 24/7 has been succinct in following its three pillars of empowerment, education and entertainment. We go forth we that mission in mind while staying in the game to keep bringing our readership "what's really going on!" Thanks for staying with us, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2013!!!  Until then....

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End is Near Post, Part One

Are you Ready for the End...Again?

Here we go again...another "the end is near" scenario that is becoming all too common these days. This time out its all about the Mayan Calendar from those ancient Incas whom supposedly came to the realization that the cosmos would experience some major upheaval come 12/21/12. This date is significant because that's when their calendar simply point blank stops. Of course all this along with so much other doomsday verbiage or blustering has filled the airwaves from the far flung fringe to those preparing to live "bunker style."

 Amazing as it may seem, I've lived through so much gloom and doom including the highly scaled up and now infamous "Y2K" drama that was suppose to send the country into mayhem and chaos. And then there's the numerous clergy such as deceased Jerry Falwell among others whom have been reading holy scrolls, tea leaves and telegraphs from the heavens with their ballyhooed predictions of the demise of all mankind. Even more surprisingly, is the fact how many times the LGBTQ community has been the red headed step child of Mother Nature which has been cited as the cause of "fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunami's." Wow what immense power those gay folks must have to bring down so much angst and tension in the land.

With all of this, I've been totally broadsided at the level of acceptance of this prediction among some individuals whom have been unable to convince myself of any credible facts or evidence of anything that's scheduled to happen. Unfortunately, I've listened to some of these discussions that also lend themselves to the overall arching references to the "rapture" which gets much play in Sunday sermons across the land. However as an avid reader of historical facts and factoids, I recall the Incas and Aztecs yet I can't for the life of me remember much about the Mayan calendar to which is suppose to end it all for each of us. So in all fairness as we certainly attempt to do here at COP 24/7, I thought it necessary to offer this moment of enlightenment to support my position that all this hand wringing and gnashing of teeth is unneeded nor warranted in anyway.

According to our brief research I've uncovered the following:

 The calendar consists of several cycles, or counts, of different lengths. The Long Count is the Mayan linear count of days consisting of approximately 5,126 years. This time cycle ended on Dec. 21, 2012 — not to imply that it was the end of the world. The calendar’s end was regarded by the Maya as not so much an end as a beginning — a beginning of a new era when humanity would no longer need to measure time in a linear fashion. This moment in time also coincided with a rare planetary alignment and what they believed would be a positive shift in global consciousness.

All of this sounds esoteric until we consider the arbitrary nature of time constructs. Our commonly accepted calendar, the Gregorian calendar, was implemented in 1582 because the prior Julian calendar was considered too long, and the new calendar shaved off about two weeks of the year. Everybody got that?

If you go deep, you'll find that there are all types of calendars that have been used to measure or chronicle some increments of time. Hello, anybody listening? Well the major take away from all of this is the fact that its vitally important that each of us take time to be persistent in having a quality of life filled with service and gratitude to not only those whom you know but those you may not. Enough already about the "end is near" but what's more important is "new beginnings" to prosperity. Don't get caught up in the latest sound bite hysteria or any stuff that can't be substantiated by the facts. The real scary situations that we should be concerned with are the mass appeal of semi-automatic weapons gone unchecked, nuclear proliferation and those folks whom keep talking about "taking their country back." I'm watching these antics much more closely than any rogue Haley's Comet or any other end-is-nigh delirium. Here’s too hoping we have a positive shift in our overall consciousness. For me the way we measure time means less than what we do with it. Think about it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Forward Motion

LGBT Leaders to House GOP: Stop Wasting Tax Dollars Defending DOMA

The leaders of the nation’s largest LGBT organizations are calling on the House Republican leadership to stop funding the legal defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA denies thousands of federal benefits and protections to same-sex couples who have legally married in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain marriage licenses.
The letter calls on the GOP House leadership to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on a law aimed at fundamentally discriminating against Americans:
“Despite the enormous economic challenges our country is facing, the House of Representatives recently decided to increase government spending to defend this discriminatory law – a law that intentionally harms thousands of Americans who are legally married…At the same time, voters in three states approved marriage equality and, in Minnesota, rejected writing a marriage ban into their state’s constitution. A strong majority of Americans support marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples – including an increasing number of conservatives. With more states allowing committed same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses, DOMA imposes burdens on hard working, tax paying citizens.”
HRC joined OutServe-SLDN, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, the Immigration Equality Action Fund, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Center, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, and Forge Inc., in signing the letter.
Last week the contract with Bancroft – the Washington-based law firm hired by Republicans to defend the law in court – was made public, revealing that House Republicans secretly agreed to raise the cost cap to $2 million. Republicans began defending the bill after the Obama Administration announced in February that it viewed the law as unconstitutional and could no longer defend it in court.
You can take action now and join HRC in calling on the GOP House leadership to drop its costly defense of DOMA.
According to a 2004 report from the Congressional Budget Office, federal individual income and estate tax revenues would actually increase $700 million per year if DOMA did not mandate the nonrecognition of marriages of same-sex couples. Recent polling from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that a majority of Americans oppose DOMA and the Republicans’ defense of it in court.
The Supreme Court announced earlier this month that it would be taking up United States v. Windsor, which questions the constitutionality of DOMA.(source:HRC)

Rainbow Freedom Walking & Planning

With 2012 about to be "o-v-a", there are now plans underway for locals to participate in the "MLK Day Ma' Rainbow Strut, January 21 in recognition of the legacy of Martin Luther King. Spearheaded by community based organization, Centers for Artistic Revolution, the effort will be apart of the official "marade" yearly produced by the Martin Luther King Commission including a free luncheon afterwards.

However and somewhat surprisingly, the MLK website doesn't mention the marade but instead touts its Presidential Inaugural bus excursion, January 19-22 to Washington, D.C. including a video sales pitch.
Also after checking through the still dated content on the site, I noticed that the "event calendar" still shows basically nothing until April 4th's Commemorative Vigil. Oversight or not, much of the information on the site recounts events in a 9/21/11 press release citing the groups numerous accomplishments and subsequent "2012" activities that have no follow up or appear to be "scheduled" for 2013. The once embattled commission is now under the executive leadership of Deshaun Scarbrough whom states that organization is seeking a "new direction, new approach" of operating. Scarbrough writes on the website,

" We are aggressively working to revitalize old partnerships, while developing new ones. We are also re-energizing our DREAM KEEPERS and expanding the Commission’s presence in the community. We hope you will visit or call our office soon, to learn how you may assist in the effort, to live the dream and make change happen."

The groups website also showcases a host of supporters and sponsors ranging from the Design Group to the local Denny's franchise, whom offer supportive donations toward the organizations program such as The Dream Keepers Program which helps empower youth to gain an appreciation for community service through teamwork. For more information on the strut or RSVP for the luncheon contact 501.244.9690. Information about the commission can be found at . Stay tuned to COP 24/7 for the latest updates!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rolliing Ahead in a COP 24/7 Surge

NMAC Launch National Survey of Black Gay and Bisexual Men

BlackMen_Affection.jpgThe National Minority AIDS Council is in the final year of a project to develop an action plan to address the persistent and disproportionate impact HIV has on black gay and bisexual men. As part of the project, we at COP 24/7 are assisting in circulating a survey to better understand perspectives and perceptions among black gay, bisexual and same-gender loving men around modalities and structural barriers to prevention and care services. This survey will contribute to both the action plan and help us determine which resources to highlight on an online resource/educational application we are developing called RISE (Resources to Improve, Strengthen and Empower).

If you are a black gay, bisexual or same-gender loving man we hope that you will take a moment to complete the brief survey (30 questions) and share with your networks. If not, we ask that you please consider sharing with any colleagues, friends or loved ones who may be willing to participate and help us to shed light on the needs of this critical, but under-served, population.

To complete the survey, click here or copy and paste the surveys URL [] into your Internet browser's address bar.

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) builds leadership within communities of color to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced this mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous publications and a website:

Helping Understand and Treat HIV Through Community-Based Leadership

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have helped bring about much of the tremendous progress in understanding and treating HIV, ranging from increasing HIV awareness, to fighting HIV-related discrimination, to volunteering for cutting-edge research. This legacy of community-based leadership is one to note on this 5th Annual National Gay Men’s HIV/Awareness Day.

In 2010, President Obama released the nation’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which called for aligning resources where HIV is most concentrated, and implementing evidence-based, high-impact interventions to reduce new HIV infections, improving HIV-related health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related disparities. The Strategy has focused Federal, State, and local efforts on a combination prevention approach for gay men and other populations at high risk, including increasing HIV testing and HIV treatment, because studies demonstrate that increasing diagnosis rates and reducing viral loads will significantly reduce new HIV infections in disproportionately affected communities.

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy also calls for addressing stigma and discrimination as part of a comprehensive response to the HIV epidemic. In keeping with the goals of the Strategy, the Department of Justice has taken steps to enforce civil rights laws that protect the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and has launched a website dedicated to fighting discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.

In addition to the Strategy, the Affordable Care Act will ensure more Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance and make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition like HIV. These changes will help gay men and other disproportionately affected populations get the coverage they need to receive comprehensive care.

This is a transformative time with regards to addressing HIV among gay men: we have made tremendous progress in aligning resources with the epidemic, increasing access to care, and addressing additional factors that contribute to HIV risk.

To fully realize the potential of these accomplishments, and to continue to fight the HIV epidemic, it will take shared commitment and leadership among Federal, State and local governments, community members, LGBT leadership organizations, and other private and public organizations. Today is a day where we recognize how far we’ve come since the early days of the epidemic while also acknowledging that there is more work to do. Through this collective effort, we will realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

(Editors note: this item originally appeared on 9/27/12 composed by Dr. Grant Colfax MD, Director ONAP. COP 24/7 wanted to reshare this piece as another information beacon for our readers. For more local information contact or call 379.8203.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sounds of Agony

Guns in America: Is it Now Time to Talk
On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7, at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, killed himself inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The day after the shootings, officials said that Mr. Lanza forced his way into the school, apparently defeating an intercom system that was meant to keep people out.
The killing spree had begun earlier at the house where Mr. Lanza had lived with his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was a gun enthusiast. There, he shot her in the face, making her his first victim. One of her guns was apparently used to take her life, authorities said. Then, leaving her dead after taking three guns that belonged to her, he climbed into her car for the short drive to the school. Two of the guns were semiautomatic pistols; the other was a semiautomatic rifle.
Once Mr. Lanza had forced his way in, wearing combat gear, the massacre unfolded with chilling speed, as he opened fire in one classroom and then another. The above item ran from the website which was another sad reminder of the tragedy that took place last week. It was another senseless and violent use of a semi-automatic weapon that resulted in death. Is this another case that will become an afterthought or will the nation finally be prepared to talk about what is to be done if anything. In the meantime, as the nation mourns, gun sales continue to soar as we now know the following:
Most estimates range between 39% and 50% of US households having at least one gun (that's about 43-55 million households). The estimates for the number of privately owned guns range from 190 million to 300 million. Removed those that skew the stats for their own purposes the best estimates are about 45% or 52 million of American households owning 260 million guns).

Some recent estimates:
  • A 2011 Gallup poll estimates that 47 percent of US households own a gun.
  • A 2007 Small Arms Survey estimates there are 88.7 guns per 100 Americans (#1 in the world for guns per capita)
  • A 2010 estimate from the NRA states "Privately owned firearms in the U.S.: Approaching 300 million, including nearly 100 million handguns. The number of firearms rises over 4 million annually." (source: )

So as we await the President's arrival, the town to bury its dead and those with outcries that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," we as a nation will again agonize and ponder how many more incidents such as this will it take to move the electorate to action. Even though this mass shooting has shaken the nation at its core, daily in cities such as Chicago, LA, ATL and even in Little Rock, the use of guns in violent acts continues causes mayhem and carnage. Therefore as the killing goes it one more...two more...five more or will we accept this as the norm for our lives and communities. The debate rages on...


Monday, December 17, 2012

COP Snaphot and Recap

COP 24/7 Special
Recapping the mHealth Summit 2012

National and international experts in health care and mobile technology gathered in Washington, DC, December 3-5, 2012, for the mHealth Summit: Connecting the Mobile Health Ecosystem Exit Disclaimer. joined government, health, private sector, industry, academic, and nonprofit leaders to learn and share about how wireless technology is being used to improve health outcomes in the United States and abroad, and particularly how it relates to HIV prevention, infectious disease, and sexual health. In four years, the Summit has grown from 800 attendees to thousands, covering a variety of issues from a diversity of perspectives. We have assembled some themes that arose throughout the Summit.

  1. Using wireless technology (such as mobile phones and other digital platforms) has been proven to be effective. In fact, many of the results presented at the Infectious Disease panel Exit Disclaimer demonstrated that mobile devices have the potential to connect with high-risk populations and acquire data we need to understand and deliver services for healthy communities across the world.
  2. Jump in and try new things. During the HIV Prevention panel Exit Disclaimer, many panelists discussed the importance of building infrastructure and relationships with potential partners and stakeholders from the ground up in order to make an impact as technology (and consumer usage) is moving quickly.
  3. There is no substitute for trust. Wireless technology can be an irreplaceable tool to provide promotional health messaging to target populations. However, it is only a tool. If the message or intervention does not come from a reliable, trusted source, it does not matter how it is delivered. This was a key lesson learned presented at the Using Mobiles to Improve Maternal & Newborn Health panel Exit Disclaimer.
  4. Policy, infrastructure, and ownership are vital. Throughout the Summit, keynote speakers and panelists alike noted that in the emerging mobile health field, there are still many questions. Therefore, proactively establishing policies and infrastructure, and determining ownership of consumer information is vital for any successful mobile health program.
  5. Health literacy can make or break any intervention. David Muntz, the principal deputy national coordinator of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology told the audience at the Federal Policy and mHealth: Update and Future Direction panel to remember that “it’s not literacy, economics, age, and education that determine whether this will succeed – the common factor we see is health literacy. We don’t need to try to cross the digital divide, until we try to first cross the health knowledge divide.”
For more information about the mHealth Summit 2012 and to watch selected Summit videos, visit Exit Disclaimer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Fast Foward Edition

Rainbow Freedom Walking

With 2012 winging its way out through the season of giving, come 2013 there are now plans underway for locals to participate in the "MLK Day Ma' Rainbow Strut, January 21 in recognition of the legacy of Martin Luther King. Spearheaded by community based organization, Centers for Artistic Revolution, the effort will be apart of the official "marade" yearly produced by the Martin Luther King Commission including a free luncheon afterwards.

However and somewhat surprisingly, the MLK website doesn't mention the marade but instead touts its Presidential Inaugural bus excursion, January 19-22 to Washington, D.C. including a video. Also after checking through dated content on the site, we discovered that the "event calendar" shows basically nothing until April 4th's Commemorative Vigil. Oversight or not, much of the information on the site recounts events in a 9/21/11 press release citing numerous accomplishments and future early "2012" activities that have no follow up or appear to be "scheduled" for 2013.  The once embattled commission is now under the executive leadership of Deshaun Scarbrough whom cites that organization is seeking a "new direction, new approach" to operating the group. Scarbrough states,

" We are aggressively working to revitalize old partnerships, while developing new ones. We are also re-energizing our DREAM KEEPERS and expanding the Commission’s presence in the community. We hope you will visit or call our office soon, to learn how you may assist in the effort, to live the dream and make change happen."

The groups website also showcases a host of supporters and sponsors ranging from the Design Group to the local Denny's franchise, whom offer supportive donations toward the organizations program such as The Dream Keepers Program which helps empower youth to gain an appreciation for community service through teamwork. For more information on the strut or RSVP for the luncheon contact 501.244.9690. Information about the commission can be found at . Stay tuned to COP 24/7 for the latest updates!  

(Editors note: the following item was a circulated item forwarded as a online donation piece from the foundation. COP 24/7 encourages our readers to share their holiday treasure with the organization of their choice including this forum which solely operates on the support of its readership.)

EJAF Speaks OUT for Holiday 2012

Twenty years ago this month, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) began as a hopeful dream, and I'm so proud of all we've accomplished together.

Thanks to the generosity of concerned friends like you, EJAF has grown into one of the largest HIV/AIDS funders in the world. Since 1992, we have raised more than $275 million in support of grassroots organizations. Our grantees conduct innovative HIV prevention programs, raise awareness, fight stigma, and provide treatment, care, and services to people living with the disease in 55 countries around the globe.

Beyond the urgently needed dollars we provide to fight the epidemic, EJAF has also emerged as a forceful and effective voice for change. We advocate for access to life-saving medicines for the poor. We speak out for gay rights and for accessible sexual health services for young people. We champion health and economic equality for African Americans. And we publicly criticize harmful and prejudiced incarceration practices that stigmatize and punish HIV-positive prisoners.

I'm especially proud of our Foundation's reputation as a relentless advocate for those without a voice in society. We take strong positions on controversial issues. We're not afraid to speak our minds, to shout at the top of our lungs, and to get people to pay attention to this issue. And we're going to keep shouting for as long and as loud as we need to end this epidemic.

As I stated in my keynote address at the International AIDS Conference this past July, the AIDS disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is NOT. The AIDS epidemic is fueled by stigma. By hate. By misinformation. By ignorance. By indifference. We can do something about these things by working together.

That's why I need your continued help – so that EJAF can continue to speak out and fight for the changes we need to make in our society that will lead to an AIDS-free generation, and eventually an AIDS-free world.

This holiday season, please join me by making a generous gift to the Elton John AIDS Foundation in honor of your family, friends, and colleagues. Help us to make a real difference in the lives of thousands today and ultimately achieve a world without AIDS tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dobule Take COP 24/7

New Equality Groups Step Off in Arkansas

This Saturday (12.15.12) the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality will meet in Maumelle, 12 noon at Casa Mexicana Restaurant to look over the other same-sex marriage laws in other states and and choose what they think will fit for Arkansas. In a Facebook posting the group cites that,"in essence we will scrap the language we currently have written and reviewed by the lawyer. We will then vote on how we move forward with what we discuss at this meeting. We will also continue discussions about events, fundraisers and strategies for the future. In the meantime, they will meet to discuss an election of officers and prepare for the next meeting." COP 24/7 has gleaned that it has been suggested that wording such as "two persons regardless of sex" be used as an option for their ballot initiative. The group also has plans to partner with yet another developing entity entitled Arkansans Against Discrimination. This group plans to put forth a 2014 ballot initiative to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1993 by adding sexual orientation and gender identity. Added to the mix as reported by , comes Arkansans for Equality which filed its paperwork to register as a limited liability corporation with the Secretary of State’s office in November. This group seeks to get a ballot proposal prepared for 2016. “We’re hoping that we can work with both sides of the political spectrum and people from all across the state,” said Jennifer Steele, one of the organizers. Ms. Steele states that her group has 400 members and will began a tentative petition drive in February. Now with all this organizing going on, one would have thought that this forum would have been included in the media mix since we are the longest running web portal that has been covering the LGBTQ community and beyond. I'm glad that mainstream media got wind of the initial meetings and updates, but in an impromptu survey that has no science behind it, I've found few to none who are members, aware of or for that matter actually have a bonafide interest in the issue. This forum would be interested in exactly who are the "400" members that support AFE or the make up of any of these burgeoning groups. Certainly we applaud all those who wish to make a commitment to social change and the tremendous effort it takes to do so. However if we take a realistic look at the landscape, from our vantage point what's been needed that supports such movement is infrastructure to which this LGBTQ community is seriously lacking.

What infrastructure are you talking about COP 24/7?  Let's tick off a few shall we... how about a serious network of in-state funders who will give of their treasure aka "money" to make a notable impact. Ballot initiatives or whatever political move you are attempting are costly ventures that need constant infusions of cash for lawyers, staffing, pollsters, and if nothing else printing and coffee. How about  a supportive electorate that is willing to go the distance without picking up their marbles and going home when the tough gets going. This is on the many headstones of group of the past who had big ideas with lots of talking heads whom flamed out without explanation or outcomes. Anybody remember any of those groups? ( Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Arkansas Equality Network) What about a defined agenda that will be significantly inclusive, diverse and embraced by those supporters whom believe that everyone should be at the decision table. These are only a few among many others that will have to be considered as these groups move forward in their missions. Of course, this is just the opining of one long blogger, but one that has seen this movie one time too many.  (pictured: Randy McCain at a press conference at the Arkansas State Capitol, during which the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund announced its lawsuit against the state's sodomy law; January 1998.)
Just for total recall, an online post from observed,"the 2012 election ended the often contentious campaign season and resulted in a number of positives for the LGBT community beginning with the re-election of President Barack Obama. He won re-election after becoming the first acting president to voice support for marriage equality, receiving some 77% of the LGBT vote.
Several openly LGBT candidates also were elected to national offices:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first out gay U.S. Senator. Sean Maloney (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will head to Congress.
Incumbent Congressmen David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jared Polis (D-CO) were re-elected.
Marriage equality passed in Maine, Maryland and Washington. A constitutional amendment banning marriage equality was defeated in Minnesota and a pro-marriage equality justice was re-elected to the Iowa Supreme Court. We'll keep you posted on the moving and shaking of these groups with updates, comments and opinion as they develop. Stay tuned....!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Triple Twelve Foreplay

This forum strives to present voices and opinions from the LGBTQ spectrum and beyond. Its vitally important that the equality chorus includes those whom are marginalized to the well connected. The piece exemplifies the challenges that many local community based organization or support groups face daily. Although issues around HIV and AIDS is still relevant, especially with the notice of increasing infection rates among African Americans, keeping a momentum of engage individuals can be daunting. Its understandable that our complex lives have demands on our time and treasure, but if we don't continue to have committed engagement and steadfast focus, there's a chance that the progress made could slip into the contemplation zone.

 Meanwhile, every contribution to the dialog has modicum of merit, points or counterpoints considered and ultimately deserves a place at the table. This COP 24/7 special item was written by Michael Burks of HIV Arkansas. Originally it was posted to the organizations website in November 2012 and is being reposted for our readership. Burks recently participated on AETN's "AIDS in Arkansas: An Update" presentation November 14, 2012 For more information contact the group at  It is unedited and reflects his personal opinion.

COP 24/7 Special
From the President: Dealing With Change

Have you every heard the phrase, “no one likes change?” Well, we all know that change is just a part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Change, at times, is necessary, beneficial and can be completely out of our control. Regardless of the circumstance surrounding any change and we must learn to deal with the changes in our lives and go on. As an organization we must also change and continually look for ways in which we can better meet the needs of our members and at the same time better equip our leaders on the board of directors to stay focused and purpose driven which helps in preventing “burn-out.”

Let’s face it, HIV Arkansas has done a lot of good things and we will continue to do a lot for the HIV Community, however, we must make some minor changes within the organization. Our members are busy our board of directors are busy and we must scale back on our activities. Below are some of the changes that have been approved by the board of directors.

Due to lack of interest and participation in the Positive Living Support Group Meetings in the Ft. Smith area the Positive Living Chapter in Ft. Smith has been suspended. We are grateful for the time and energy that Kari Coffman devoted to this group. Kari will remain active in the HIV community as she endeavors to work with ARHope (Formerly NWA HOPE) and as she develops her Away with Stigma Facebook page.

Many have noticed you are not receiving as many newsletters as before. Several months ago we decided to do a quarterly newsletter instead of a monthly one to cut production time and costs. Our intention is to utilize our email capacity by sending email reminders and updates regularly through electronic means. We are working toward developing a streamlined system for notifications.
Our business meetings have been rescheduled and will occur at the end of each quarter instead of monthly. Our next business meeting will be in December. Our board has determined we can conduct many business decisions through email communications which greatly decreases the amount of time required for board members to attend business meetings.

Our typical monthly socials have been reduced to basically a quarterly schedule as well. We plan to have a Spring Cookout, our Annual Retreat in June, a Fall Cookout and some type of Winter social. We are always open to new ideas and welcome any suggestions you may have for socials and outings. I strongly encourage each member and our friends to make every attempt possible to attend these socials and special events under the new schedule.

Although these things mentioned above are significant changes that have taken place there is one thing that remains in unchanged and that’s our NWA Positive Living Support Meetings. These meetings are held on the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. in the Glotzbecker Conference Room at the Rogers Public L:ibrary Chapter. The attendance varies from month to month but the meetings are always uplifting and encouraging to all that attend. We invite everyone to join us for these meetings.
If we don’t see you for the Holiday season, we wish you blessed and happy holiday seasons and a Happy New Year.

Michael Burks

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Talking OUT Loud

Local Employment Opportunities with CBO

The Living Affected Corporation is seeking applicants for pre-screening for possible consideration for part-time positions within both the organizations current projects and 2013 programming.
The organization serves as a sub-grantee of the Arkansas Department of Health as a conduit to offering HIV/AIDS prevention interventions.

In the groups effort to widen the scope of its work, the organization has entered into a collaborative agreement with historically black college Philander Smith College who will serve as a fiduciary component in the first wave of funding. The collaboration also will include a development deal involving the schools Social Justice Institute and both on and off campus activities. LA Corp will cultivate "home grown" intervention core elements adopted from diffusion of evidenced based models. Some of these models are designed as a tools to educate, empower, and encourage basic prevention conversations among Black gay men ranging in ages 13-24, as well as diverse other communities. The organization seeks to identify key community "opinion leaders" who could be trained to provide additional training and monitoring then evaluating penetration outcomes of the program implementation.

According to federal statistical data Black gay men have had a 48% increase in infection rates which supports the need for additional messaging and innovative approaches. LA Corp will be seeking candidates for upcoming testing and counseling training session for 2013. Concurrent to the prevention programming angle, LA Corp also seeks to explore issues around its "H.E.F.T E. initiative" ( Housing, Education, Food, Treatment and Employment) that creates a framework of social determinants that also plays a significant role in not only incidence rates but also health outcomes among marginalized communities. To further address these levels of determinants, the organization has plans to pursue a partnership within the developing Medicaid expansion exchange project connected to the Affordable Care Act. Arkansas Exchange task force is recommending utilizing community based organizations in the effort to serve as navigation points of entry for citizens shopping the exchanges for insurance. Complete details of the project are still unfolding at post time, however in lieu of the program launch, LA Corp is preparing an interview schedule, hiring parameters as well as possible drug or background checks as required for certain positions.

Each applicant must be at least 18 years old, obtained a high school degree or certified GED, capable of a flexible schedule, reliable transportation including current drivers license and willing to actively engage pre-testing and ongoing training modules will be preferred. Qualified applicants will be apart of the organizations multi teams in providing HIV testing and counseling, public outreach and speaking, fundraising, event logistic planning and supportive data gathering and entry. Desired skills include Word software applications including Excel, interest in social justice activities, being a self starter with a team player attitude and prepared for some possible travel opportunities. Appointments can be arranged at 379.8203, resumes forwarded to , or FAX to 855.792.5483. 

Only serious applicants need apply. For additional organizational information: Check us out and become a friend on FACEBOOK. There are additional volunteer opportunites in fundraising, longistics, data entry, outreach and community garden project.

NWA Holiday Food Drive 

Each year HIV Arkansas helps 50 families during the Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays by providing them with a basket of food. The food in these baskets is enough to feed a family for one week. We are anticipating this years give-a-way to be the biggest one we have ever had as our efforts are multiplied with the help of the members of The Spirit of Peace Community Church in Fayetteville. This welcoming congregation will be gathering food items and will help with assembling and distribution. We are blessed to have been given a faith-based family to help with this endeavor.
We have arranged with the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic to host the give-a-way in the Conference Room located just across the hall from the Clinic at the Washington County Health Department. If you are in need of a basket please contact the clinic for eligibility.
If you would like to volunteer to work for this special cause, please call Michael at 479-466-6453. Lunch and drinks will be provided to all who volunteer to work the Food Drive Give-a-Way day. Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 12 noon preparing all the baskets. For more info contact:

Prevalence of HIV Criminalization Perpetuates Stigma and Inhibits Disclosure and Testing, According to U.S. National Dialogue
On December 4, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Center for HIV Law and Policy, and the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), in conjunction with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), hosted “The United States National Dialogue on the Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Exposure and Non-disclosure: The Role of States and the Federal Government." The landmark event brought together 40 civil society representatives, people living with HIV, and other experts to discuss how to lessen criminalization laws and how to enhance peoples’ ability to disclose their status. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted her work as the U.S. Representative to the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. She noted the surprising number of prosecutions of people living with HIV for failing to disclose their status despite lack of actual transmission, or evidence of intent to transmit. Rep. Lee also indicated that there is clear evidence showing that these prosecutions make it more difficult for people to get tested and treatment. Many criminalization laws were passed before the advent of anti-retroviral therapy and are based on a long-outdated understanding of HIV.
Panelists from UNDP highlighted a July 2012 report by the Global Commission called “Risks, Rights and Health” that served as the background for the presentation. The report and accompanying materials can be found here.
Randy Mayer, AIDS Director for the Iowa Department of Health, and Iowa State Senator Matthew McCoy (D), discussed actions being taken at the state level. Iowa has one of the harshest HIV criminalization laws in the U.S., requiring sentences of people living with HIV to more than 25 years in prison whether or not transmission actually took place or the person took efforts to minimize the possibility of transmission. Iowa’s law also requires the person register as a sex offender. Senator McCoy has introduced legislation to: 1) amend that state’s HIV statute to limit it to cases of malicious intent to harm someone, 2) change the penalty based on actual transmission, and 3) remove the registration requirement. Mayer has also worked to educate lawmakers about more effective ways to address the issue of transmission. NASTAD has created guidelines for state directors in helping to deal with this issue, which can be found here. Senator McCoy indicated he did not believe the issue broke down around partisan lines as much as around lines of the “informed and uninformed.” According to Senator McCoy, it is important that everyone understands the benefits of ending outdated criminalization laws.
Lisa Fager-Bediako from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Act Against AIDS Project moderated a discussion among the civil society representatives and audience about the risks and consequences of HIV transmission, HIV in hard-hit U.S. communities, HIV prosecutions and disclosure, promotion of safe and voluntary HIV disclosure and the identification of solutions and next steps. Participants in the room agreed to keep working to change laws and planned to create additional spaces for future discussions of HIV criminalization.
Seminar on "New Responses to the D.C. HIV/AIDS Epidemic": D.C. Gentrification an Independent Risk Factor for City's Vulnerable Populations
On Monday, December 3, the D.C. Developmental Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR) hosted a seminar with Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration at the D.C. Department of Health. Entitled “New Responses to the D.C. HIV/AIDS Epidemic," Dr. Pappas’s presentation focused on trends in D.C.’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, including current systems of health and care and major policy approaches.
According to Dr. Pappas, D.C. has eliminated many of the traditional barriers to care and treatment, including lack of transportation and cost of medicine. It has the second highest rate of insurance coverage in the nation after Massachusetts due in part to early implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He highlighted the correlation between the increased number of clean needles distributed since local funding for syringe exchange was legalized in 2007 along with the decreased number of cases of HIV transmission through needle sharing. Despite many successful programs, HIV prevalence in D.C. remains high at 2.7%, and only 29% of those who are HIV positive have maintained viral suppression. Because of stigma, African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely to be tested, get into treatment, and be virally suppressed; in fact, 25% of African-American MSM in D.C. are HIV positive.
One of the most interesting aspects of Dr. Pappas’ presentation was his discussion of gentrification in D.C. as an independent risk factor for HIV for vulnerable populations, as these populations’ social capital is strained and displaced by the disruption of social networks due to the effects of renovation and restoration. In fact, he tracked rates of HIV incidence and gentrification and found that 55% of the variance in case rate distribution of HIV can be explained by gentrification alone.
In terms of policy approaches, Dr. Pappas suggested the idea of a “domestic PEPFAR,” a kind of program that would invest large amounts of money into prevention, treatment and care with coordination across the federal and jurisdiction levels. He also discussed the importance of HIV medical homes, which could be used as the national model for patient-centered medical homes for people living with chronic diseases once the Affordable Care Act is implemented. In February, his office will be hosting a training focusing on achieving coordination between community based organizations and clinical caregivers to ensure the highest quality of care and support for people living with HIV.
Many of the points that Dr. Pappas discussed, while specific to D.C., can be adapted and applied to regions across the country. For example, his data on the correlation between syringe exchange programs and decreased rates of HIV transmission should serve as evidence for a greater number of these programs. His focus on policies like gentrification at the micro-level has proven to be extremely valuable, and we must consider how social structures and programs around the country have an effect on HIV. As Dr. Pappas and his office continue to build policy that ensures the greatest quality of care and support for people living with HIV across the country, we should look to D.C. to learn valuable lessons about our own programs and policies.
To learn more about the DC D-CFAR, you can visit their website by clicking here.
Senate Fails to Pass Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
On December 4, the Senate failed to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty of the United Nations, by 5 votes. The Convention was created to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights for people living with disabilities and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination. The U.S. International Council on Disabilities released a statement following the vote in support of those Senators who voted to pass the treaty:
“The American disability and veteran community applauds the 61 courageous senators who stood up for the rights of their citizens. The Democrats and Independents were unified in their support for the treaty. We sincerely thank those Republicans who stood with us for their courage: Senators McCain, Barrasso, Brown, Collins, Ayotte, Snowe, Murkowski, and Lugar. As for the other 38 senators, who abandoned the very principles and values that this country was built upon by blocking the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - we will not let you forget this vote. Countless Americans with disabilities came together across the United States to support the cause of U.S. ratification of the CRPD.”
HIV-positive individuals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the passing of this treaty would have been an even greater step towards ensuring that the inherent dignity of people living with HIV is respected and maintained. AIDS United hopes that this treaty will be passed to ensure the rights of all people with disabilities, including those living with HIV, are protected and respected.
To read more about HIV and the Americans with Disabilities Act, click here.
To read more about the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, click here.
Show Support for HIV Testing Recommendation!
On November 19, 2012, the United States Preventative Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation in strong support of routine HIV testing for all adolescents and adults ages 15 through 65, pregnant women, and others at increased risk for HIV younger than 15 and older than 65. This recommendation was assigned a Grade "A" rating. This is a monumental change for the USPSTF which in the past recommended testing only for people who are “at risk” for HIV and pregnant women. The Grade “A” grade is merely a draft and is now subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be finalized.
Click here to read a sign-on letter authored by the HIV Testing Reimbursement Subcommittee of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) in strong support of the draft recommendation. If you or your organization would like to sign it, please go to:
The deadline to sign-on to the letter is 12 noon ET, Friday, December 14th.
Should you have any questions or comments on the letter, please feel free to contact Subcommittee Co-Chairs Carl Schmid at or Holly Kilness at
Finalization of this recommendation can have a substantial impact on bringing more people into care and treatment, and decreasing new HIV infections. It will also have implications on coverage of HIV testing as USPSTF grades guide reimbursement requirements for private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid.
To read the draft recommendation or if you would like to submit your own comments (individual comments are due by December 17, 2012) go to:

Urge the USPSTF to Change Its Hepatitis C Testing Recommendation!
On November 27, 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation statement on screening for Hepatitis C. The statement recommends “screening for hepatitis C virus infection in adults at high risk, including those with any history of intravenous drug use and blood transfusions before 1992” and gives this recommendation a Grade B rating, meaning that screening for these populations has much more potential benefits than harm. The statement also recommends that “clinicians consider offering Hepatitis C infection screening in adults born between 1945 and 1965” and gives this a Grade C rating, meaning it has at least a small overall benefit.
AIDS United is concerned that this recommendation does not follow the guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, COMBATING THE SILENT EPIDEMIC of VIRAL HEPATITIS Action Plan for the Prevention, Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, which is to implement routine viral hepatitis testing as part of the standard of care in a reformed health-care system.
The Task Force’s recommendation is open for public comments until December 24, 2012. Until then, you can show your support for changing the recommendation to a Grade B rating! You can read the draft recommendation and add your comments by clicking here.

Survey Regarding Safe and Appropriate Access to PrEP for Women in the U.S.
Earlier this year, SisterLove, a reproductive justice organization for women that focuses on HIV/AIDS and based in Atlanta, met with a group of women advocates from across the U.S. to talk about how to make PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) safely and appropriately accessible to women in the U.S. who want to use it. They have developed this survey to make sure that the views of transgender women, sex workers and active drug users are represented in their discussions.
We invite any and all eligible individuals to complete this survey by January 1, 2013. Your input is greatly appreciated and will assist SisterLove in this important discussion about the role of PrEP in the lives of women in the U.S. Feel free to pass this survey along to whatever lists, friends or colleagues you think are appropriate.
For more information, please contact Anna Forbes ( or (301) 946-4269/(610) 662-1261).

National Latino AIDS Action Network Seeking Intern to Support Program and Policy Activities
The National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) is seeking a qualified intern to help support program and policy activities. NLAAN is a national coalition of community-based and national organizations, state and local health departments, researchers and concerned individuals working to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Latino/Hispanic communities. It works to mobilize, educate, and advocate on national, state and local levels in collaboration with Latino-serving organizations and communities to prevent HIV infection, increase access to care and treatment, and inform research efforts that address the needs of diverse Latino communities.
Qualified candidates should apply by e-mail only to Please list INTERN, NLAAN in subject line and attach a cover letter and resume.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Slip Streaming COP 24/7

We Are You: Self Evident Tour Post Southern Swing

The project Self Evident Truths created by io Tillett Wright began photographing anyone that felt like they qualified to fall on some part of the LGBTQ spectrum, from bisexual, to transgender. Shot in simple black and white, in natural light, with no makeup or styling, the photos were intended to humanize the very varied face of gays in America today. “Guess what, we look just like you, your mother, your brother, or the coworker sitting right next to you.” Around fifty portraits were shot in the two weeks that she had, and were presented in stacks in a gallery in Los Angeles, to be taken away by viewers, for free. The tour also came through Little Rock earlier this year continuing its mission to collect and document that many of us are just like you. Pictures captured in Little Rock are posted to to their website at and features locals (Vernon S. pictured) whom turned out to participate as snaphot 943 of 1676 photos taken. The project team states that the Self Evident Truths portraits will be compiled into a series of large exhibitions, an online database, a book, several guerrilla art campaigns, and they will be disseminated through numerous digital outlets.A documentary team is also creating a film about the project, the people they meet, and the issues they face in their daily lives in different parts of the country.

Campaigns such as this continue to grow and evolve across the country including the newly revamped Know Now effort spearheaded by the Arkansas Department of Health's Hep C HIV Section that re-tooled its imagery to better reflect the target group of Black Gay men whom are being highly impacted with infection rates of the disease. Unveiled during February's Black HIV Awareness Day, the campaign was met with questions and inquires concerning images that were "MIA"( missing in action) during a ADH press conference. A counter campaign entitled "Know Not" was launched by the STRILITE group which criticized the roll out for its lack of cultural competency in regards to same sex couples or spotlighting the desired demographic. Currently the campaign has completed it re-shoot of images to be included as well as post production and there are plans to move forward with a distribution phase. With the release of funding announcements from ADH, another local community based organization is preparing to propose the "We R" campaign which will designed to show actual images of MSM's in daily life situations from shopping to sharing family moments to demonstrate the messaging that "We R your brothers," or "We R your customers." The campaign will be a one of the three waves of The PRISMS Project ( Promoting Relative Interventions for Sexual Minorities) being cultivated as competitor for the 2013 HIV Prevention grant rounds. The proposed program will address facts around the 2011 epidemiological data that in Arkansas of the 95 male to male HIV transmissions were African Americans, although these citizens accounts for less than 1% of Arkansas' population. Furthermore, the factors of homophobia, stigma and the challenges of various social determinants such as housing, employment, food, treatment and education play a significant role in early interventions through testing and access to a care continuum. COP 24/7 has been steadfast in its posting of the latest data, updates, links and breaking news about this ongoing health dilemma and pledges to continue bringing our readers the latest from all sources reporting on this issue.

The COP 24/7 Commentary:HIV/AIDS Section Chief Departs

Last Friday, Ms.Tina Long, MS CHES, Hep C/ HIV/ AIDS Section Chief at the Arkansas Department of Health abruptly resigned her post to allegedly work for another local community based group organization. Ms. Long departs some eighteen months later still shrouded in a cloud of mystery and uncertainty similar to her July 2011 arrival touted by then Infectious Disease Branch Chief, Dr. James Phillip whom cited in his internally circulated e-mail:

"Tina brings a wealth of valuable education and experience to the position. Tina has a Master’s of Science degree in Health Education from the University of Tennessee. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Health Education/Community Health from UALR. She is a certified health education specialist. Tina is coming to this position from the University of Florida, where she was a coordinator of education and training programs. Prior to that, she was education director for Planned Parenthood of East Tennessee and conducted training for HIV/AIDS prevention."

Meanwhile, in a "one line blip" reported in the August 2011 of National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors newsletter.( ) Ms. Long's arrival item didn't offer any accolades, report any awards presented, interviews given or writings produced nor collaborations that Long may have participated. It seem that she appeared out of no where and no one knew who she was or exactly what she had done specifically in the area of HIV and AIDS. The statement said, "conducted training for HIV AIDS prevention..." so what training was that and what outcomes were achieved were never concluded to my satisfaction nor anyone else. As an advocate and concerned citizen, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt although I had my reservations then which I now realize were those gut feelings that I rely on when situations just don't seem right and usually they are not.

Apparently Ms. Long shared her resignation news among her colleagues but decided not to make a formal public statement to stakeholders, consumers, advocates or activist to perhaps cites the challenges, barriers or accomplishments if any of her tenure as the point person in this important ADH section. I certainly respect her prerogative to not do so, but to not do so again fuels critics into the mind set that the post of "Section Chief" appears to a stepping stone career move for those whom assume it. Furthermore most likely have no intentions of any longevity or possess any real formidable passion for the work in this critical position. This situation flies in the face of the fact that prior to Ms. Long being hired, the then Arkansas HIV Community Advocates damn begged ADH hiring officials to be in the loop on who was being considered with the possibility of additionally vetting the candidate or finalist for the position. Organization members were emphatic that not only that entity be apart of the process but that it would be in the best interest of the HIV/AIDS community to weigh in on what should be sought for the next director. Yet despite those outcries, letters forwarded, phone calls, e-mails and conversations, all request were quaintly dismissed. Again resulting in an individual brought into what the 2010 SHARP report ( State Healthcare Research Access Project) observed in the following:

 "part of the problem may lie in the fact that ADH has abrogated some if its responsibilities in the past, such as administration of ADAP, delegating responsibilities to community based providers. A reassertion of central authority over some functions may cause community based providers to feel that their contributions over the years are not being adequately respected or valued."

This was a high profile report which included a press conference and all the trappings of a forward momentum at that time. Subsequently, proponents of that report have returned to this state to find that only increments of progress have occurred amidst a rising infection rates among African Americans, no defined strategies to track over 4,617 individuals not in care, no coordinated follow through on the Consumer Office within ADH, inadequate HIV prevention interventions juxtaposed to current community structure and lackluster interaction or monitoring of day to day collection, movement or spikes in key data reports.

Ultimately what's needed in this position is an individual whom not only has some "fire in the belly" for the problems but some sure fire leadership skills to "stand for something or be at the mercy of all." Its imperative that hiring officials take a hard look at why it appears that candidates chosen opt out in about 18 months.  Money could be an actual issue even though other Section Chief's have earned up $80K and still vamped out. So if its not money then what the hell is it?

At this point the section is fully staffed albeit questionably funded to meet the demands of a state that has a "patchwork system of care." Its no secret that Arkansas has no line item in its budget for HIV prevention not to mention that federal dollars have seen some roll backs and flat lining across the board. For 2013 local CBO's most likely will have to include funding for purchasing testing packets within their minuscule budgets. Furthermore, there appears to be some nebulous understanding about budgets as well as grant writing that must be fixed either with the interim chief or whom ever is chosen.

The next leader of this entity needs to be prepared to assess the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of this section while engaging their considerable cultivated industry resources. We don't need another lightweight follower but a heavyweight direct leader who will be able to network and negotiate or comprise what's needed to get Arkansas in the game toward an AIDS Free generation. COP 24/7 wishes Ms. Long well on her next endeavor but now its time to roll up our sleeves and recruit a robust replacement to get the job done.