Wednesday, April 30, 2014

COP 24/7 On the Road Round Up

AIDS Watch 2014: The 360 Look Back

All this week this forum has dedicated itself to covering AIDS Watch 2014, April 28-29 in Washington D.C. Especially as we were embedded with Team Arkansas who scrapped their way to
the nation's capitol to be apart of the national conversation around all that impacts those living this chronic health dilemma. Throughout the convening, Arkansans raised issues juxtaposed to national trends, shifts as well as shortfalls that have now forced the current infrastructure to reassess its next moves in the face of tightening budgets, systems integration and fulfilling the needs of an aging population amidst new infections.

Breakout and Listening Sessions

During the meeting, various members of Team Arkansas participated in breakout sessions that spotlighted the SASI Initiative which has collaborated with Duke University and AIDS Chicago among others in gathering the latest data on surveillance, mortality rates and new infections across the south. The report pointed our disparities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana such a poor infrastructure, marginal services and outcomes although there has been much capacity building brought to the area. At the nexus of the problem in most areas was cited as "stigma," and the ill affects that it may possibly bring to area citizens.

However, in another flip of the coin, during the Listening Sessions with newly appointed Director of the Office of AIDS Policy, the issue of "stigma" was firmly challenged with terms such as "self inflicted stigma or stigmatization of any kind," that might be used by those with self esteem issues.

The robust conversation around "stigma" revealed that individuals living with the health challenge should not succumb to believing "all things stigma" could be happening to themselves. It was soundly affirmed that PLWHA should be encouraged to return to full employment, increase their skill levels, engage the policy tables around the mantra "nothing about us, with us," and connect with needed services to bring them a good quality of life.

A housekeeping parameter was set that those whom shared info would not have their names reported, however, even that marker was challenged that "if we see ourselves as nasty then other will also. I don't think that I have to not acknowledge my status or preferences." Other's in attendance felt that NHAS ( National HIV AIDS Strategy) needed a revisit with more distinct references to intimate partner violence, transgender and gender identity concerns and more women centric issues that may not has been defined as could have been.

From a policy aspect the Committee to End AIDS had a scheduled rally in support to pass HR 1843 in moving forward to end criminalization of the disease. The Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act would require an interagency review of federal and state laws that criminalizes certain actions by people living with HIV.

According to author and activist Dewayne Carl (pictured above), of Los Angeles, "this would be a fairly good start at reviewing and overturning discrimination. It's imperative that we all reach out in our communities to contact their Capitol Hill Representatives to enjoin Chris Coons (D-Del.), a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who introduced legislation aimed at ending the stigma, discrimination and stereotypes that negatively impact Americans living with HIV/AIDS.

Twisters in Arkansas

During AIDS WATCH 2014, there was an outpouring of inquiry and support for the violent weather event that roared through Central Arkansas. Not only within the conference itself but also all over D.C. folks were intrigued with the devastation and lost of life. Team Arkansas thanked those who shared their concerns and moments of compassion. COP 24/7 monitored the situation through various tweets, Facebook post, instant messaging and e-mails from many locals who reached out to update about the ground situation. It was good to learn that President Obama reached out to Governor Beebe and offered federal assistance to scale up rebuilding and fulfill immediate needs. Although this situation should be not be political, but as a point of reference, Obama did not carry the state in either election cycle and has received marginal to no support from our Capitol Hill delegation.  As one would expect, the Renegades for a Cause has swung into motion on its latest mission to assist the less fortunate. COP 24/7 encourages the community to show some pride and turn out for this worthy cause. Check out the flyer below and all social media platforms for updates.


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