Monday, May 11, 2015

Michael Johnson Monday at COP 24/7

HIV Criminalization: No Justice, No Peace??

Today's post is dedicated to Mr. Michael Johnson who is facing charges around his actions involving his mutual sexual engagements without a condom with various individuals while a student at Lindenwood University in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, MO. Johnson's case became a
sensation locally and erupted discussion, rants, dialogue, outrage and has continued to raise awareness to these laws as well as there affects on those ensnared by them. Mr. Johnson, goes to trial today.

In the past, this platform has shared information about how these measures have impacted those who have failed to disclose their status and the work of community based organization The Living Affected Corporation in attempting to address the issue through a petition drive, supportive programming and other actions that didn't result in the needed traction to its purpose of asking for repeal or reform of the states law. Ironically, in 2014 Iowa modernized its law through a collaborative campaign of Iowa's Department of Health, One Iowa, and community activist and advocates resulting in a bipartisan bill signed by Gov. Branstand. Despite a five year effort the bill moves to make the statue more consistent with what we now know about HIV transmission and chronic disease management.

Since that effort, there has been basically "crickets" despite the maddening noise around other prioritized "equality issues." To date there has been planning around LGBT health Summits, additional ACA focused activities, "academic working groups"created, and funded transgender health and LGBT Smoking Initiative's that are moving forward with there respective agendas.

But the issue of HIV criminalization has no significant champion, although its impact could be far reaching to the 7,368 people living with HIV and AIDS in Arkansas according to the SERO Project website.

For COP 24/7, the case of Michael Johnson was presented front and center by a news story by award winning journalist Steven Thrasher and a outreach campaign created by Charles Stephens of the Counter Narrative Project which also produced a open letter to Johnson as a support mechanism. Each of these information sources definitely outlined not only Johnson's case but other cases that have not received any high profile attention. In Johnson's case, the verbiage around the case became explosive in  terms of "sex tapes, bare backing, disclosure and "Mandingo," to which Johnson used as a mobile profile handle and had been noted in his House Ball activities.

As we watch his case unfold, it is undeniable that this issue must not remain languishing with no attention or interest. Or is this issue just not "sexy" enough to warrant any interest even as so many other topics surge to the forefront in search of data sets and assessments. COP 24/7 will continue to post about the situation and encourages readers to check out The Sero Project ( ) for more information.         


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