Monday, February 24, 2014

Spining The COP 24/7 Big Wheel

AIDS Foundation Names Leadership Change

Although it seems that there has not been an official press release from AAF nor any formal updates to the organizations website, COP 24/7 is always on the hunt to break news to the LGBTQ community about what's really going on. So what's new?

Well it seems that Miss Portia Cheatham has assumed the duties of Executive Director of the
Arkansas AIDS Foundation upon the departure of Dr. Michael Cannon. Cheatham had served in the capacity of HOPWA ( Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) Program Administrator and Board Member for the past several years.

Hailing from Camden and now residing in Conway, Cheatham was also featured as well as COP 24/7 Executive Producer C. Mabin on yesterday's AETN Minority Matters program ( )  in a round table
discussion on Arkansans living with HIV. According to Cheatham, she is seeking to revitalize the organization with future planning and has moved to discover new board members to fill vacancies.

The Arkansas AIDS Foundation / Consortia-Care of Arkansas provides HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) rental and/or utility assistance for individuals infected with HIV/AIDS, who meet HOPWA HUD assistance guidelines and criteria. The AAF also provides clients with referrals for many other services within the community.

The HOPWA program services span six (6) counties for active clients: Pulaski, Saline, Grant, Perry, Conway and Faulkner counties.

COP 24/7 congratulates Miss Cheatham on accepting the helm of this challenging position with well wishes that she receives an outpouring of support and capacity building in her pursuit to move the foundation forward. We will pursue a full interview in the coming weeks.

HIV sentencing reform bill passes Senate hurdle

A bill aimed at reforming Iowa's HIV criminalization law has passed a major hurdle in the Iowa Senate. And why is this news in Arkansas? Well for several reasons, one being that the Arkansas HIV Planning Group Community Co- Chair, Cornelius Mabin had been slated  last week to attend a meeting with his counterparts of Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates Network at the Iowa Department of Health who had planned capacity building activities and a lobby day at their state Capitol concerning decriminalizing HIV and AIDS.

However, due to some extreme sketchy and nebulous explanations, Mabin was excluded from representing despite the fact that Arkansas has the same type of law on its books. Did you get that?  Yes, one of the key stakeholders needed that would have expertise in understanding the issues on behalf of the HIV/ AIDS community got passed over for other ADH personnel that had limited connection to the issue and no connection to the very community needing updates and clarifications for which part of the planning group was devised to do.

Hello, is anybody getting this? Does any of this make any sense? Can anyone really with a straight face explain any of this? Well they've tried and let's just say the Co-Chair is not amused or convinced to any of it. Especially since as Co-Chair Mabin will be attending AIDS Watch , April 26-28 in Washington D.C. without the financial support of AHPG but with limited support from AIDS United in an effort to continue to lobby Arkansas Capitol Hill delegation on health disparity issues. Stay tuned for more back talk on all of this coming this week.
Meanwhile the good news from Iowa is the fact that Senate Study Bill 3196 passed a Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon with unanimous support.

The bill looks to make changes to the current HIV law, including introducing a tiered sentencing system, and no longer being HIV-specific.

The bill, which was first introduced Monday by Senator Rob Hogg, received bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and now moves onto a vote in the full Senate before going to the House.
"We are so grateful for Senator Rob Hogg's leadership on getting this bill through committee," says Tami Haught, an organizer with Community HIV/Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN). "To have this bill pass through committee with bipartisan support is a testament that Iowa is ready to move away from its current draconian law." Congrats to CHAIN on a job well done and making it clear that building relationships and staying focused on the issues can make a difference. Well keep monitoring their progress.

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