Monday, September 17, 2012

The COP 24/7 Handbasket and More Part 1

Its been another wild and woolly weekend not only locally but most definitely globally. It seemed that the world took a shift into mayhem as extremist, jihads and everything in between or from the fringes took a hard left. What we learned was that a obscure film "trailer" that was suppose to be supporting a full fledged negative bent film on Islam caused devotees to explode into rage. Ultimately causing the deaths of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans caused all of us to take notice that our Middle East diplomacy policies may be no match for those anti-American sentiments or those not feeling that "democracy" stuff. From this vantage point, it appears that our "Billions of Dollars" of nation building and foreign aid often leads to unleashing the underbelly of forces that are beyond our control or reach. Meanwhile, as that region of the world teeters in chaos, there's much else going on that has not fallen into that "going to hell in handbasket" category. Let's dive right in...

The Perversion Files

When I first heard that the Boys Scouts of America had a series of "Perversion Files" that had been discovered and accessed by the Los Angeles Times, I thought "WTF!" What type of organization has a system that would be developed to capture "perversion" among its ranks. Really!? But it was true. I had been a "cub scout" in my youth and later enjoyed being in the Explorer program. Yet learning that BSA had did its best to cloak inappropriate sexual behavior for nearly a century was amazing.

Incredible as it seems, all of this information had been stored in locked cabinets in its Texas HQ and there had been according to the LA Times report, "more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior.

Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts' failure to check the blacklist.

In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on "probation."

In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indiana. Even after being convicted of the crime, he went on to join two troops in Illinois between 1971 and 1988. He later admitted to molesting more than 100 boys, was convicted of the sexual assault of a Scout in 1989 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, according to his file and court records."  Even though additional measures have been layered into the system, I was blown away with the fact that it wasn't until 2010 that any suspected sexual abuse was to be reported to law officials. And yet all this time it was revealed that BSA had maintained a "ineligible volunteer" files in one form or another since at least 1919 to keep track of men who failed to meet Scouting's moral standards. Files that involved allegations of child sexual abuse were dubbed "perversion files." A master list of those banned from Scouting has been computerized since 1975 and is used to vet applicants for volunteer and paid positions. I loved scouting and never experienced any type of this abuse or entertained that such a possible could have occurred during that time of innocence. Its so ironic that even as I embraced their concepts of "lead, inspire, explore"  then, yet currently as a proud same gender loving man they would have no part of me now.

Comprehensively and Jurisdictionally Yours

The Arkansas Planning Group better known as "ARCPG" received and adopted a formative plan to be considered by the Arkansas Department of Health in regards to HIV/AIDS Prevention. The Center for Disease Control encourages the use of collaborative efforts utilizing interested individuals and organizations within the jurisdiction to offer insights and observations as to what the plan should consist of and how its implemented with the community. For ARCPG, this task was plagued with uncertainty, delays, shifting participation, and other stifling roadblocks that had to be overcome before meeting submission deadlines. Even more glaring is the fact that although it was reported that the plan has been circulated, there may have been some entities that were missed or accidentally left out of the information loop. This is most troubling due to the fact that as COP 24/7 has engaged in discussions with numerous individuals or entities only to learn that there seems to be a lack of knowledge as to what is contained within the document.

Despite all the back story, what's more important is the fact that this plan should be leveraged within a coordinated and strategic advocacy campaign to educate legislative policy makers as to the plight of "HIV/AIDS 2012" in the state of Arkansas. This compelling information should not be simply submitted to the CDC as a "year end tool" to meet a deliverable but rather it should be the definitive package to lobby our body politic on why Arkansas needs to contribute to a line item funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, what is the "plan Stan" to address those not linked to care or retained in care and support a better crafted "Opt-Out" legislative piece. Furthermore it is imperative that the tenants of the plan become energized in conjunction to President Obama's National HIV AIDS Strategy.

Also in this mix is ADH's Hep C/ HIV/AIDS section's ability in determining if our tracking processes are factual, the impact of the affordable care act and how the social determinants known as the "HEFTE" concept will be included in the care delivery system. COP 24/7 applauds the collaborative work that brought the plan to fruition, but firmly believes that " if you make a plan, then you must "work" the plan that you've made." Nothing good comes of something sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to use it. If you are interested in accessing this information contact the Arkansas Department of health's Hep C/HIV/AIDS Section.

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

Tomorrow, September 18, 2012, marks the 3rd annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. This special day provides us all with the opportunity to focus on the many challenges related to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment facing our aging population. “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be,” the theme for this years National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, reminds us that there is more we can do to make older Americans aware of HIV prevention and testing. With 15% of all new HIV/AIDS cases occurring among people aged 50 and older, it’s clear that we can and must do more to inform individuals and service providers about the importance of educating older Americans.

Increased prevention is one element of the call-to-action the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day provides, but we must also focus on treatment and care. Research indicates that by 2015, half of the people living with HIV in the U.S. will be over age 50. As people live longer with HIV, we must continue to learn more about how to manage the long term effects of HIV and how this intersects with the aging process and other common health conditions. Aging services providers and HIV care providers must work together to ensure that the special needs of these men and women can be effectively addressed in an integrated and collaborative fashion.

Please join the Administration on Aging and our network of community-based aging services providers in heeding the call-to-action of the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day and join us in raising awareness across the country of the prevention, testing and treatment needs of our aging population.

Kathy Greenlee is the Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Sevices


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