Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Roll Away June 2015

Wilmore Goes Left on Marriage Equality Haters

Let the word salads begin! In case you may have missed any of it, there's been plenty of twisting and turning of the good kings English including Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s scathing dissent in the
historic gay marriage ruling last week. In a word, Scalia's applesauce exclamation point was topped by his "jiggery pokery" outrage to it all. Just to let you in on its meaning, the term refers to matters that are dishonest, deceitful behavior or business or just plain old "trickery."

However, “Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore saved his best shots on Monday for Justice Clarence Thomas’ just-as-vile conservative ramblings, in which he used a slavery analogy to make the case for how the government had overstepped.
 
He wrote: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.”

“Do you even know what slavery is?” Wilmore asked. “Slavery is the complete stripping of humanity and dignity. That’s the point of slavery. When do you think slaves were whipped? Whenever they tried to dare to show any humanity or dignity.”

Chelsea Clinton's speaking fee: $65,000

      
When Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees proved too steep for one public university last year, school
officials reached for a less expensive alternative: her daughter, Chelsea.

According to a report from The Washington Post, representatives from the former secretary of state’s office gave officials at the University of Missouri-Kansas City a $275,000 quote for a one-time speaking fee.
 
“Yikes!” one official emailed another, according to the report. Rather than paying that much, UMKC opted to pay Chelsea $65,000 for a brief appearance in February 2014. The former first daughter spoke for 10 minutes before participating in a 20-minute Q&A session and posing for pictures.
According to the report, the school also considered booking less expensive alternatives, including Gloria Steinem ($30,000), Cokie Roberts ($40,000), Tina Brown ($50,000) and Lesley Stahl ($50,000).

A spokesman for Chelsea Clinton told the Post that as with her mother’s paid speeches at universities, she directed her speaking fee toward the Clinton Foundation.
A spokesman for the university said that Clinton’s fee was paid through private donations.
 

OutSports’ Cyd Zeigler to be honored for groundbreaking coverage

by Chuck Colbert

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) will honor Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of OutSports.com, with its 2015 Lisa Ben Award on June 25 at a Los Angles fundraiser.

The Lisa Ben Award for Achievement in Feature Coverage was established to honor a journalist whose body of work is distinguished by insight and impact through engaging features on LGBT individuals, the LGBT community, or LGBT issues. It bears the pen name of Edith Eyde, the creator and distributor of the first known U.S. lesbian publication and the inaugural winner of the award in 2014.

Cyd Zeigler,
co-founder of OutSports.com
Like Eyde, Zeigler identified an area of LGBT life that was largely uncovered by mainstream media and provided a service to the community. Together with co-founder Jim Buzinski, Zeigler has grown OutSports.com, founded in 1999, into a must-read for stories of LGBT athletes and sports issues and broadened the general public’s understanding of LGBT people in sport. He is credited with breaking several coming out stories involving now well-known athletes like retired NBA player John Amaechi and retired NFL player Wade Davis. OutSports was purchased by Vox Media in 2013, incorporating it into the sports website SB Nation.

“Cyd Zeigler’s such an important pioneer when it comes to telling the real story about the LGBT community and sports," said, NLGJA president Jen Christensen. "There’s a reason LGBT athletes come to him first with their stories. Our community is so lucky to have such an able hand steering this important narrative for both current LGBT athletes and for future pros who will now know that they can have some confidence that they can be out as there have been others before them."

Reached by telephone, Zeigler said that when he and Buzinski started writing about LGBT people in sports, “Nobody wanted to talk about it.” That is to say, “Gay people didn’t want to talk about sports, and people in sports didn’t want to talk about LGBT issues,” Zeigler explained. “Today that is totally transformed, and it seems as if OutSports has been at the center of closing the gap between those two worlds. Today I go to gay parties where people are talking about sports, and people in sports media want to talk about gay issues all the time.”

“One of the most powerful pieces for me has been the athletes reaching out to me to tell their stories, and being able to craft the coming out of so many people,” he said, naming college basketball player Derrick Gordon, professional football player Michael Sam and Stephen Alexander. The latter is the country’s first openly transgender high school coach, in Glocester, R.I.

“These stories have been so impactful to me, and I feel lucky to have been able to write them,” Zeigler said. Receiving the Ben Award, he said, “is a nice acknowledgment of the contributions to making that happen.”

A former associate editor of the New York Blade and sports editor for Genre magazine, Zeigler has written for a number of news outlets including Sports Illustrated and the New York Times and has appeared on ESPN, FOX Sports Radio, and CNN. He is a regular contributor on CBS Sports Radio. He is the co-author with Buzinski of “The Outsports Revolution: Truth and Myth in the World of Gay Sports.”

A Massachusetts native, Zeigler is a 1995 graduate of Stanford University where he studied communications. He also contributes to The Huffington Post, Out magazine, Playboy, and The Advocate.
 



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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Week that Was Equality

Last week, President Obama visited the White House Rose Garden to deliver his statements on recent Supreme Court decisions concerning the ACA and the marriage equality question. He was
direct and uplifting as he acknowledged that the court's decisions had been momentous and as he put it "justice arrived like a thunderbolt."  And so it was.

Although the high court ruled and masses of same sex couples rejoiced, all of this jubilation was not taken in by everyone. Almost immediately the right wing, wing nuts and fringe haters went into overdrive to deride what had been decided by the highest court in the land. Social media lit up with rainbow colors amidst tantrums and screeds of denial, disdain and denigration of the decision and its alleged after affects on the country. There was the extremes of one pastor citing that he might set himself ablaze to protest the decision. Others proclaimed that the nation was now going to hell in a SCOTUS hand basket.

COP 24/7 was attempting to take it all in including the emotional and stirring eulogy offered by the President in South Carolina that was capped off by our week long posting in recognition of National HIV Testing Week.  And here we are on the cusp of the second half of 2015 and our countdown to ending this forum. Its been a wild ride since our inception and who would have thought that this time capsule would now contain information on the one of greatest cultural shifts in our nation's history. Although Obama had to evolve in his thinking, he stated, "they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law, that all people should be treated equally regardless of who they are or who they love.”

He continued,  Just two days before the court’s decision, Obama reflected on society’s political shift at a reception for LGBT activists.
“A decade ago, politicians ran against LGBT rights,” Obama said. “Today, they’re running towards them. Because they’ve learned what the rest of the country knows — that marriage equality is about our civil rights, and our firm belief that every citizen should be treated equally under the law.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/supreme-court-gay-marriage-obama-twitter-119464.html#ixzz3edxvwpAy






Pride in The ROCK Presents

As pride activities were a their zenith over the weekend after the SCOTUS ruling, wait there's more! Arkansas CAN ( Creating Awareness Now) has announced its Pride in Rock listing of activities beginning, July 23-26, 2015.

According to their FB page, "Unity in the Community," has been chosen as the theme for this years activities. Currently the effort is being sponsored by Tarsus Brothers, Heart Throb Productions and Juiced Entertainment. The site states that more details and additional information will be posted.



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Friday, June 26, 2015

Testing Week Friday

Endgame of HIV and AIDS in Arkansas

All this week we've been looking at the spectrum of HIV and AIDS both nationally and statewide as we look at snapshots of what has happened and what needs to happen in Arkansas. So what have we learned?  There's been a litany to assessments, calendars filled with meetings, focus groups, VCT training and capacity building opportunities with organizations such as NASTAD, Latino Commission, ACRIA, and many others that have come and gone. In between we've seen a litany of consultants, as well as, experts who were brought to town to put locals on the right track for better outcomes that didn't always happen. 

There has been almost an A to Z laundry list of programming ranging from fashion shows, gospel concerts, film projects, testing tours and tented testing extravaganza's, awareness and outreach events of all sizes and manner, including an over the top, if not ill fated attempt to build testing booths in a local bar.

Coinciding was also a roll out of DEBI's and EBI's ( Diffusion Effective Behavioral Interventions) prevention interventions such as "M3V," Many Men, Many Voices, "D-Up," and a mash up of other interventions that had marginal effectiveness in behavior changes. There have been large and small galas both inside and outside of conferences plus a couple of "prayer breakfast" events at the Governor's Mansion.

Also in this array of addressing this health dilemma we've had big talk media campaigns that were suppose to penetrate into our communities through barbershops, beauty shops and affinity businesses that were to allegedly increase the knowledge base of those whom frequented these outlets. Let us not forget the various press conferences across the city to highlight and ballyhoo all that was, is and supposedly happening to combat new infections or assure that all was being done in the name of public health. 

Yet with all this well meaning activity that offered some measure of deterrence or possible quantifiable outcomes, we are still grappling with the certainty that although infections may have plateaued otherwise in Arkansas, it is undeniable and indisputable that according to the CDC,

"The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 African Americans living with HIV are unaware of their status and over a third of Latinos receive an AIDS diagnosis within one year of testing positive. The reasons behind why people of color don’t get tested or delay testing are complicated, but many agree that stigma and fear are major factors. An unwillingness to take an HIV test means that more people are diagnosed late- causing unnecessary illness, delayed treatment, increased likelihood of transmitting HIV to others, and potentially early death."
Arkansans is not exempt from this scenario no matter how much anyone wants to see it through any other lens. Through all that we've sampled, here's COP 24/7's take away bullet items that should be apart of any forthcoming planning to End AIDS in Arkansas...:

1. Competent and stable leadership to champion issues inside the Hepatitis C/ HIV/AIDS Section of ADH. Plus a full assessment of current strategies, allocations, grantees, staffing and future planning.

2. Assess the effectiveness of the Governor's HIV AIDS Task Force, Office of Minority Health and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission's future focus on HIV in Arkansas.

3. Complete update on data gathering efforts initialized from current agency activity and updated information posted on appointed web portals.

4. An overview of Community Health Centers readiness to address or capabilities to navigate PLWHA individuals to all services.

5. Assess the impact of HOPWA client services as to rehabilitation or life skills building resulting in preparation to access stable housing or home ownership.

These are just a few items that might need to be considered if Arkansas is to be on board to make strives to end AIDS in Arkansas.

Stopping HIV: The Trudva Revolution, Part 3

This is the final installment of the VICE Report's series on Truvad and its impact or lack thereof among the MSM community. At best, COP 24/7 urges that there needs to be essential dialogue as to the levels of usage in Arkansas as well as the knowledge base of clinicians in prescribing this prevention method in the linkage and retention in care continuum.
 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Staying Alive and In Awareness

All this week COP 24/7 is doing a 360 in recognition of National HIV Testing Week 2015. Now in its third decade, HIV and AIDS has lost its headline making, as well as, stunning visuals that once dominated global news cycles. Gone are the news video of hospital wards filled with young gay men dying of a then "mysterious" disease. Gone is the rush to define what the "gay plague" was and
exactly how it was transmitted and who plus how clinicians would treat these suffering individuals. Gone are the massive marches, screeds from activist changed to federal buildings, calls for those infected to be quarantined, and government officials dumbfounded to explain to a waiting public on
its response to this modern day health dilemma.

And with today's Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling that the subsidies afforded to those enrolling via the federal exchange no matter whether the respective states have set up state exchanges have been ruled as legal will continue to assist those newly diagnosed either link or be retained in care.

Moving forward this platform can take a look back while understanding just how far we've come with a pipeline of medicines, weighty HIV/AIDS infrastructure, massive funding apparatuses fueling the next waves of closing the care gap through new interventions and prevention methods.

Yet amazingly with all this progress we are still facing 50,000 new infections yearly in the US with the CDC quantifying the disproportionate impact in communities of color and recently we witnessed HIV infections soar in Austin, Indiana due to IDU users using works that caused a viral outbreak that sent their local health officials into overdrive to deal with the situation.

Arkansas mirrors national statistics with ADH reporting a plateau in infections among MSM's, with the exception of continuing new infections among young black men 18-24 whom represent 1% of the states population but account for 50% of the new cases. Many of these cases also have consisted of dual infections of other STI's such as Syphilis which is most common. Added to this situation is also health literacy, homophobia, stigma, and socio-economic conditions that further complicate knowing their status as a priority.

Current trends project that one in 16 Black men not to mention one in 32 Black women are going to be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Although there have been both prevention and interventions deployed in the state to target this population, undoubtedly the continuing infection rates begs the question as to the marginal impact on changing any behavior. Consequently, with the emphasis now moving toward linkage and retention in care, assessments demonstrate that the "information viral load" within this community is still relevantly low and challenging at best.

30 Years and Counting: Treatment As Prevention

In 1987, a drug called AZT became the first approved treatment for HIV disease. Since then, approximately 30 drugs have been approved to treat people living with HIV/AIDS, and more are under development. Including the highly controversial use of PReP that warrants such conversations, especially in Arkansas where there has been extremely low dialogue about prescribing the drug or strategies to assess its impact on both those using it as part of their daily regimen or those seeking it due to their negative status.

Although the ARV pipeline has grown significantly, according to a April 2013 Report to the Arkansas General Assembly spearheaded by the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and Arkansas HIV/AIDS Minority Task Force which cited in its interim study that, "there was no virtually no information available about attitudes and practices related to HIV testing among Arkansas patients and health care providers."

Hence COP 24/7 continues to highlight the Arkansas timeline around this health dilemma and inquire about the responses from the states public health officials. In the meantime, if you need FREE HIV testing, counseling, insurance information or linkage to care navigation check out www.linqforlife.com or our testing locator badge in the margin of this platform.

You may have heard these drugs called many different names, including:
  • "The Cocktail"
  • Antiretrovirals (ARVs)
  • Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART or ART)
There are currently five different "classes" of HIV drugs. Each class of drug attacks the virus at different points in its life cycle—so if you are taking HIV meds, you will generally take 3 different antiretroviral drugs from 2 different classes.

This regimen is standard for HIV care—and it’s important. That’s because no drug can cure HIV, and taking a single drug, by itself, won’t stop HIV from harming you. Taking 3 different HIV meds does the best job of controlling the amount of virus in your body and protecting your immune system.

Taking more than one drug also protects you against HIV drug resistance. When HIV reproduces, it can make copies of itself that are imperfect—and these mutations may not respond to the drugs you take to control your HIV. If you follow the 3-drug regimen, the HIV in your body will be less likely to make new copies that don’t respond to your HIV meds.

Harm Reduction in the HIV Mix

There are now approximately 200 needle exchange programs in the US, predominately on the eastern seaboard and the west coast, and in New Mexico and several other scattered states; comparatively few are in southern states. And Arkansas is among those states that has a paraphernalia law that is apart of a disconnect of understanding the actual "connection" of IDU and the complexities of HIV and Hep C, even as the state is now offering Hep C testing services.

 Despite the lack of addressing the issue in this state, the programs have been successful at lowering the rate of HIV and hepatitis C infections: According to the World Health Organization, “Needle exchange programs substantially and cost-effectively reduce the spread of HIV among [people who inject drugs] and do so without evidence of exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal level.” Put another way, these programs are useful in stopping the spread of disease and don’t lead to more drug use, typically.

Still, they remain controversial in some places. For example, needle exchanges are illegal in North Carolina, where Tessie Castillo is the communications and advocacy coordinator at the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, headquartered in Durham. “We have a very strong abstinence-only culture in this country,” Castillo says, “especially in the south.”

Increasingly, though, other aspects of harm reduction are not so contentious. Most notable is the improved access to Narcan, which is now used throughout the country by drug users as well as law enforcement agents, and prescribed by physicians and, in some states, pharmacists. Massachusetts’ program has worked especially well; since 2006, health officials there have been distributing intranasal naloxone to those likely to witness an opioid overdose — outreach workers, homeless shelter operators and drug users and their family members. The program was credited with reversing more than 1,800 overdoses from heroin, prescription painkillers and other opiates, according to a 2013 Boston Globe article.

To date, “26 states have passed naloxone laws, which have really helped,” says Katherine Neill, PhD, of the Baker Institute at Rice University, in Houston. “And Good Samaritan laws — which mandate that you can’t get in trouble for calling authorities [for help] if you witness an overdose — have been enacted in at least 20 states.” (To see what the laws are in your state, click the map at LawAtlas.org.) For more information on services related to IDU use call 501-379-8203.
 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sex Positive Mid Week Hump

Stopping HIV? The Truvada Revolution - Part 2

A drug called Truvada is the first FDA-approved means of preventing HIV infection. If an HIV-negative person takes the pill every day, he or she is nearly 99 percent protected from contracting the virus. Controversy continues to surround the broad uptake of Truvada, but the landscape of safer sex and HIV prevention changes fundamentally from this point forward—particularly within the gay male community, the population hit hardest by HIV in America. In this episode of VICE Reports, VICE explores the future of the Truvada and its revolutionary impact on ending HIV/AIDS.

Yet after 3 years of FDA approval, the debates, dialogues and dissent continues as some see the usage of this drug as a "party drug," that negates the options of using condoms in lieu of "bare backing," or "getting bred," as a sexual behavior. Of all this we must then, can't deny that in Arkansas communities of color we have disparities ranging from the social determinants of health which also includes access to insurance whether it be through Ryan White programs, migration to the affordable care act or accessing Arkansas Health Care Independence Act that could preclude this segment of the population to not only accessing this drug but meanwhile adhering to the daily regimen.

Also in this mix, we also can't deny the angles of how Arkansas's public health response continues to be steeped in a "when we know better, we do better," attitude that should warrant additional public inquiries and considerable engagement from consumers, stakeholders and allies alike, yet it appears that there's no surge in interest as to how this dilemma is being strategized or exactly what is the game plan for the state.

So where are on this? To date there are entities such as Lee County Cooperative, Jefferson Comprehensive Care Systems, ARCare, Arkansas Human Development Cooperation and Greater Delta Alliance that serve as grantees to provide HIV intervention, outreach and testing services
utilizing CDC prevention funding. ADH deployed staff for public engagement awareness at the recent Blues on the River and Riverfest events in which they alerted attendees to their "Know Now" campaign visualization campaign.

Plus there is the Community Connectors Initiative that has five designated independent contractors across the state seeking to do further innovative localize testing, counseling and linkage to care navigation.

However, since a May 2014 Arkansas HIV Planning Group meeting in where agencies were to present on their activities there has been no further updates, outcomes shared or strategies as to the effectiveness of their efforts. Furthermore, questions surrounding the denial of local CBO's and faith based entities applying for 2014 "Awareness Day " funding have to this date still been unanswered although ADH representatives stated that both written notice and verbal explanations would be provided by the scheduled June 2015 meeting.

Issues concerning STI testing appointments in area health clinics and other culturally sensitivity training for their staff have gone basically unresolved without further discussions or system's testing to determine shortfalls or gaps. And this is just for starters as to the state of HIV prevention and intervention in Arkansas.

Watch COP 24/7 as we continue to share about champions, challenges and cooperative partnerships that are working. Stay with us...

  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trailblazing to the Future to End AIDS

Brown Accepted as BAI Fellow

Mr. Lee Brown, LinQ for Life, Inc. CEO and Founder, has been selected for the Black AIDS Institute’s 2015 African American HIV University Science and Treatment College (AAHU STC). "I am extremely happy to have been accepted and the opportunities to connect to this invaluable resource to build upon." said Brown. Continuing, " I believe that aligning my self with this program will enhance building my companies approach to being on the next wave of intervention and prevention where services are wrap round focused to create a single stop medical experience." 
 
After subsequent interviews and being vetted by BAI program specialist, the organization stated they were convinced of Brown's commitment to personal and organizational growth as well as a demonstrated capacity to improve access to and utilization of HIV prevention services in the community. 
 
Brown commented, " I had learned about their curriculum and how I felt it could benefit my pursuits both educationally and professionally." He concluded, " I also believe that the networking and identifying vital resources will be beneficial to all my efforts in Arkansas." Brown will be the first Arkansan to attend this section of the institute and has garnered the support of UAMS's Office of Diversity.
 
Concurrent to establishing the public benefit organization, LinQ for Life in 2014, Brown also earned his Emergency Medical Sciences degree from UAMS and is both a certified EMT facilitator and VCT Trainer. The organization was an outgrowth of his concerns that more peer driven services needed to be developed and his observation to the shifting health care delivery system involving insurance navigation, patient centered care and emerging telemedicine platforms.
 
BAI Program Specialist, Gearld Garth stated, "we are confident that Mr. Brown will make a valuable contribution to the HIV/AIDS needs of  Arkansans through his participation in AAHU STC as well as uphold the Institute standard of excellence."

The AAHU Science and Treatment College is a four-stage program sponsored by the Black AIDS Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles Center for World Health in which Fellows learn to promote high quality care in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention by building the skills and capacity of HIV/AIDS science literacy and treatment strategies.
 
Do You Doctor Test or Home Test?
 
Some individuals may question whether it is better to buy home kits or have a doctor test them. Although doctors testing individuals have remained popular due to being able to have the doctor perform the tests and the speed at which the tests are returned, home tests are slowly gaining in popularity, especially as they are now becoming FDA accepted. However, while the home kits are gaining in popularity, only one home kit is currently accepted by the FDA, with a handful of others undergoing review by the FDA.
 

The Advantages of Home Testing

Home kits have many advantages. Among these advantages is that they are far cheaper than doctor administered tests. In addition, they can provide an individual with complete anonymity, which is
something that a doctor cannot provide. Individuals can send their completed test with only a control number on it, and they do not need to give their name, which will help to protect their identity. Although this also means they will need to pay for a home kit because insurance companies do not currently pay for them, it may be a good choice for individuals who do not wish for their identities to be known.

Doctor-Administered Tests

Doctor testing is different in multiple ways, however, mainly due to the variations in cost and the atmosphere you have to take the test in. Doctor administered tests, like the kind that check for viral codes, are very expensive and can make a hospital bill very high if multiple tests need to be administered. In addition, individuals have to deal with the impartial responses of doctors or nurse practitioners who have to tell individuals that they are now infected with HIV. Although many doctors try hard to be sincere, there is only so much sincerity that can be given under the circumstances these individuals face.

Receiving Adequate Support

Family support is a big factor for some individuals in using a home kit for HIV testing, as some prefer to have individuals supporting them during the testing process. However, other individuals choose a home kit because they do not want any of their friends or family members to know. For these individuals, the last thing they want is for their families to be informed of their situation or to be in a situation where they will need to share the results. Despite this, family can play a strong support for an individual, especially if he or she just found they are HIV positive. Although at times family can make a situation more emotional, there are also times a family can make a difference for an individual being able to handle his or her situation.

Disadvantages of Home Kits

A disadvantage of choosing a home kit for HIV testing is that a doctor not only will be unable to help individuals understand the results, but that individuals will also be unable to seek counseling as easily. Counseling can help individuals prepare for a test, gain understanding, and teach them how to cope after they have been given their results. Post-test counseling is beneficial as not only will an individual learn about living with the virus, but he or she will have support through a counselor if there is no other location that he or she can obtain support from. In addition, post-test counseling can help prevent further individuals from being infected.

Doctor Tests Boast Better Accuracy Rate

For some individuals, they prefer to have testing results that are as accurate as possible. For these individuals, they want their doctors to confirm their results as, in most instances, people will need to have their results confirmed by doctors if they receive a positive result through a home kit. However, while home tests are not always accurate, doctor-administered tests are not always accurate and must usually be confirmed with a secondary test, as with the Western Blot test. Different tests are more accurate, and it has been confirmed that doctor testing is more efficient and accurate than home kits.
The decision of which HIV test to take will eventually fall upon the individual, who must determine what he or she will want to do. If an individual prefers having his or her family around, a doctor could be a good option, but if true anonymity is preferred, a home kit is the best choice. The final decision will need to be weighed against accuracy, price, and the testing environment.
 
 
Save the Date!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Welcome to HIV Awareness Week at COP 24/7

The 24/7 news cycle contains a tremendous amount of news, breaking news and a onslaught of coverage that seems endless. This platform does it ever loving best to stay "on point" with as much current or fast moving stories that are being blasted out across numerous sites and other news gathering mediums. Yet with all this crackling news sorting and trending, COP 24/7 also is dedicated to spotlighting efforts that are not getting the "buzz" or the relentless "talking head" coverage that fills the airwaves.

This week COP 24/7 will cross pollinate this platform with our Facebook page(www.facebook.com/corneliusonpoint) and all our connected media partners including The READ  produced by LACorp Publishing (www.livingaffected.org ), The Reflections of Mirror Project, LinQ for Life,(www.linqforlife.com ) Inc.and Arkansas HIV Planning Group in a united effort to recognize National HIV Awareness Week, culminating on June 27 as National HIV Testing Day.

All week this sight will offer the latest in links, updates, video, statistics, strategies and what's really going on and what's not going on in Arkansas around HIV and AIDS. Please bookmark us or subscribe to make sure that you don't miss this aggressive week of educating, empowering and entertaining minds and hearts to how the "solution is all of us," in ending new infections and ending AIDS in Arkansas.

The Waves of Truvada in Stopping HIV

We begin our week with posting the following video from Vice.com which has developed a 3 part series in which viewers can get a point of view about the use of the drug, Truvada and its impact on consumers both HIV positive or not. Discussions around its usage have been animated across the country, yet in Arkansas there has not been a grow swell of dialogue concerning the use of the drug, however, there have been no direct surveys or inquires as to the usage or even the prescribing of the drug.

As the week goes forward, COP 24/7 will share the entire series and more information on how individuals can get FREE testing, counseling, insurance navigation, links to care or retention in care and direct contacts to services. It's going to be fact filled week that will cover a variety of topics to increase our communities viral load! Please share this post with your networks and repost on your social sites.

 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trending at 24/7

AID Atlanta and AHF to Join Forces

The announcement from AID Atlanta on its board decision to "join forces" with AIDS Healthcare
Foundation came out nowhere and seems to have caught clients, consumers, local Atlanta activist and advocates off guard. The actual announcement came as follows:

AID Atlanta and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) are joining forces to expand the Agency’s capacity and provide critical lifesaving services to those affected by HIV/AIDS throughout the 27 county Metro Atlanta area it serves. The organization will continue to operate as AID Atlanta and plans to continue current programs and primary care services at both locations with no anticipated disruption of services to patients.   No jobs are expected to be cut as a result of the affiliation. The organization will continue to provide holistic healthcare for patients including primary care, case management and ancillary services.
Both organizations have similar missions and serve HIV-positive patients with a wide variety of services.  The leadership of both organizations anticipate being able to test more and get more positive people into care no matter where in Atlanta they live. “We want to focus on the areas that have been neglected and where the epidemic is at its height.  AID Atlanta approached AHF because it’s a fight we want to win.” says James Hughey, Interim CEO of AID Atlanta.
After the announcement, some took to social media to share their concerns and observations as to nature of the move and its possible impact on the organization. At the core of the discussion is the
extremely strained to damn near disdain for AHF President Michael Weinstein and his position on the usage of  pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).  In a high profile editorial ad placement, Weinstein states,
“AIDS Healthcare Foundation is not against PrEP. Truvada can absolutely be the right decision for specific patients who, in consultation with their doctors, decide this is the best choice.” Weinstein explains. “However, the entire body of scientific data demonstrates that Truvada will not be successful as a mass public health intervention. Yet, this is exactly what PreP advocates, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend.”

“We have another incredibly powerful tool to prevent HIV infection: any person who is HIV-positive, whose virus is undetectable, is 96 percent non-infections to others,” Weinstein continues. “Yet in the United States only 40 percent of HIV-positive people are even seeing a doctor for their HIV and only 30 percent are undetectable. If every person with HIV in the United States knew their status, went on treatment, and had their viral load under control, there would be no new HIV infections.”

Local ATL activist and Counter Narrative founder Charles Stephens took to Facebook stating, "in a city like Atlanta where the HIV rates are through the roof, you wanna merge with an organization that has continually been out of step with scientific realities and the HIV community? That has been
adversarial to PrEP?" Also in the FB thread there was speculation to both the management and financial solvency of AID Atlanta also issues around agencies capacities within the communities in which they serve.

This situation was highly discussed at US Conference on AIDS last year as workshops addressed how agencies will or will not survive in the face of funding cuts and shifting resources. The mantra "grow, merge or die," was a dominant discussion that found it way back to Arkansas as apart of Arkansas RAPPS's second Impact session held in February which also raised the issue among local organizations about their sustainability and strategic planning.(www.facebook.com/arkansasrapps )

Emily Brown added to the FB conversation with, "I'm not here to call out AID Atlanta specifically, but ASOs around the country have been in a race to the bottom for a while now, mostly choosing to compete against each other for funding rather than collaborate and scale up. Few operate as true community centers even before takeovers become "necessary," even though they were built on the backs of people who literally died trying to build community-centered health entities."

COP 24/7 will continue to monitor the dialogue and share more about how the changing health care delivery system will be affecting local community based organization who will either "grow, merge, or die."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Voices Carry Admist Hate and Heatrache

Gunfire and Bloodshed in the Land

It's happened again and again we are all aghast at yet another shooting in which nine parishioners were murdered last night while attending Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

They were killed in cold blood by Dylann Roof, a white man who sat among them during their worship for more than an hour, then opened fire, declaring "You're raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go." 

COP 24/7 echo's sentiments of all those outraged and distress that another murderous tragedy has unfolded in an American city. This senseless violence has again demonstrated that we must deal with the issues of mental health, access to guns and those whom embrace hate rhetoric with sights on acting on it. President Obama pointedly emphasized he was frustrated and most likely aggravated that despite Sandy Hook and far back as Columbine, there is no political will to drill down on the issue of guns in America. When will it be enough, just what will it take or how many more corpses need to be counted?

Although this incident has currently shaken our senses, gun violence continues to rack up victims across the country in cities such as Chicago and New Orleans. Of all this, what also needs to be seriously asked, "is what family dynamics or societal elements created this individual." As we are outraged and filled with empathy and sympathy for the families involved, we can't deny that there could be more "Dylann's" among us, simply incubating as home grown terrorist while seeking to unleash the next blood bath moment that again will capture our attention. Our prayers go out to all those in Charleston and maybe this act, this time, will move my fellow citizens to demand that their congressional leadership to just not react, but act on some solutions to this ongoing carnage.

Why is telemedicine good for Arkansas?

The landscape of health care is a changing and its moving fast in many directions as entities and health care providers discover ways to "close the coverage gap."  Quietly and somewhat obscure is the fact that Arkansas has been on the cutting edge of building out its telemedicine network and
opportunities and now that network could include those living with HIV and AIDS.

Added to this mix is also overtones to scale up conversations with emerging public benefit organization, LinQ for Life, Incorporated concerning how UAMS's growing network of telemedicine which now consist of Antenatal and Neonatal Guidelines, Education and Learning System, or ANGELS, in which women can get medical and health advice about their pregnancies 24 hours a day, including information for HIV positive pregnant women. Currently their are initial talks about how could the UAMS telemedicine network possibly be augmented to address PLWHA in rural sectors of the state.

"As apart of my educational pursuits, I wanted to engage in talks with the Telemedicine division as to what their level of involvement currently is as to using this platform to address those needing
HIV health care in the rural where perhaps no services are available." said Lee Brown, Linq for Life, founder and CEO.

UAMS also offers the Arkansas SAVES telemedicine program that has proven to be successful in helping patients throughout the state avoid suffering from long-term disabilities due to stroke. Brown continued, "after researching these programs, I realized a dialogue needed to be open to educate my colleagues on the challenges and barriers of those living in the rural encounter to either linking or retention in care due to logistics. Plus how this same system could be utilized to maximize a quality of care in areas that have limited facilities or providers who could offer competent HIV care."

Arkansas is a rural state. 39% of its population is considered rural. That means  1,156,946 (or 1.15 million) people in the state live in a rural setting. This makes it tougher for people to get to some specialized health services. Telemedicine bridges that distance gap – making it easier for people to get some specialized services without having to leave their home community. This saves money, time and can result in quicker access to care. Brown concludes, " we are in the discussion infancy stage but I believe that I may have at least got their attention on how both LinQ for Life and UAMS could champion this issue."


Watch COP 24/7 for more information on upcoming activities during National HIV Awareness Week, June 21-27! Need FREE testing and counseling call 501-404-2367




 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The COP 24/7 Big Basket Wednesday

Capacity Building At USCA 2015

The United States Conference on AIDS offers a wide variety of workshops and seminars addressing a myriad of topics. This year, NMAC’s Capacity Building division will host three innovative skills building workshops on emerging leadership development, quality improvement, and patient navigation program evaluation. Come join us for these highly interactive, thought-provoking workshops to be offered September 10-13, 2015 in Washington D.C.

Workshop: Closing the Leadership Gap 

leader walking graphicLeadership capacity and development has always been a key concern for nonprofit leaders. This concern has been heightened recently by the increasing need for innovative strategies to lead and sustain nonprofit organizations, as well as the impending retirement of vast numbers of seasoned leaders. At a time when organizations need more leaders—and more experienced leaders—organizations are facing the single largest departure of leaders in modern history. This leadership gap has led an increasing number of organizations to place renewed emphasis on the development and acquisition of emerging leaders—particularly members of Generation X and millennials—who show promise as the leaders of tomorrow.
This workshop will provide strategies on identifying and developing emerging leaders to ensure a ready leadership talent pool. Emerging leaders will gain insight on how to position themselves to be at the top of the talent pool of future leaders.
Presenters: Kim Johnson, MD and Tamara Combs

Workshop: High Impact Prevention: Spicing Up Programs with QI Tools 
 words graphicWhat changes do we need to make to ensure our programs are aligned with High Impact Prevention (HIP)? How can we demonstrate that our programs are in alignment with HIP?  How do we address the barriers and challenges we face when trying to redirect services? Three years after the roll out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) HIP approach, many organizations are still asking these questions. Often times when new mandates are established, programs are expected to redirect services without having examples of preferred implementation methods and/or best practices.  However, there is a way to redirect and demonstrate that your programs are HIP compliant through quality improvement (QI). Quality Improvement is, “a continuous and ongoing effort to achieve measurable improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness, performance, accountability, outcomes, and other indicators of quality services or processes which achieve equity and improve the health of the community" (Riley et al, 2010). Utilizing the appropriateQI tools can help you address implementation issues and identify gaps and solutions for redirecting services. In this session we will demonstrate various examples of how QI tools can be utilized to ensure your existing and new programs are HIP.
Presenters: Natasha Speed and Joan Llanes

Workshop: Evaluating Patient Navigation Services     

patient navigator relationshipsTwenty years ago, Dr. Harold P. Freeman created the term “patient navigation services (PNS)” to denote an intervention for people living with cancer.  Over time these persons have assisted in other diseases, specifically HIV and AIDS care. However, there are many questions about how to best use navigators and how effective are they?
The purpose of this workshop is to identify the basic tools and practices to help community groups measure the effectiveness of their HIV Patient Navigators in their communities.  Using a highly interactive approach we will explore ways to monitor and evaluate the different components of PNS.  We will focus on the development of a
logic model to guide PNS activities as well as process and outcome indicators. At the end of the workshop, participants will have the knowledge and resources to monitor and evaluate their respective PNS program.   Presenter: Robin Kelley, PhD
 
The Truth About Transgender Youth and Bathrooms
 
Noting that right-wing media have long promoted the myth that cisgender (nontrans) students will claim they're trans to gain access to the opposite gender's facilities, Media Matters called each of the schools to see if that scenario really plays itself out in real life. As it turns out: it doesn't.

In fact, as the Media Matters video explains below, many of the schools within Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington State are quite proud to say that their trans-inclusive policies have improved the safety of their environments.

The report, "17 School Districts Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Protections for Transgender Students," corroborates findings Media Matters published last year in "15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth," and echo similar arguments other transgender advocates have been making, particularly in reponse to this year's onslaught of antitrans bathroom bills.
 

 
 
 
 
 

For information on FREE HIV testing, counseling and linkage or retention in care navigation call 501-404-2400 or 877-293-6416. 
"Get Facts.... Not Foolishness." 
Do it today!!
 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Periscope Tuesday at COP 24/7

National Men's Health Week

COP 24/7 was designed to cover a range of topics that also impacts a wide array of individuals as well as those who may access this platform. Our Mission Pillars have remained the same since our
inception, which are to empower, educate and entertain conversations, dialogue, debate, dissent and direction to identify common goals or spaces for improvement.

June 15-21 is designated as National Men's Health Week and COP 24/7 challenges our male readers to make sure that their health becomes a priority because men are twenty four percent less likely to see a doctor in the past year. So get insured, schedule yearly check up's and certainly get tested for HIV and know your status. Need more info? Check out The HHS’s Federal Occupational Health Agency’s  (FOHA’s)  step-by-step guide offers a reliable way to make those visits more frequent and helps men take control of their health from Coverage to Care.  
 
  • Download a free resource, Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age, an informational pamphlet on screening tests, preventative medicine, and steps for good health for men.
  • Make sure to browse FOHA’s  comprehensive Campaigns and Outreach Toolkit for  free and downloadable flyers, posters, table tents, and email blasts to help you spread the word throughout your communities!
Documentary on My Brother’s Keeper this weekend!
My Brother’s Keeper Documentary Film, Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper, is airing on Discovery Channel and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network June 21 at 7 PM ET/PTThe My Brother’s Keeper initiative was launched by President Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensures that all young people can reach their full potential. The show explores the lives and families of boys and young men of color from across the country that participate in life changing intervention programs. The film highlights four programs that exemplify the principles of President Obama's My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.
According to a White House fact sheet, Little Rock is the only Arkansas city that joined the community challenge to implement a coherent cradle-to-college and career strategy aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people, consistent with the goals and recommendations of the Task Force’s May report, to ensure that all youth can achieve their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances into which they are born. The Challenge is not a new federal program, but rather a call to action for leaders of communities across the Nation to build and execute comprehensive strategies. For more on the initiative go to www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper
"The Magna Carta at 800" In partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the Pulaski County Bar Association
This week marks 800 years since King John of England signed the Magna Carta, which has persisted as one of the most influential charters in history. Its principles of individual liberty, right to trial by jury, and legal supremacy have informed a wide variety of documents, from the United States Constitution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Lewis Neilson, Jr., Chancellor of the National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons, will discuss the importance of the Magna Carta as well as the institutions that have preserved its principles.
When: Friday, June 26, 2015 at noon
Where:
 Clinton School of Public Service, Sturgis Hall
*Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or calling (501) 683-5239.
Bar Watch in the City
Its been many minutes since COP 24/7 offered a "bar watch" item for your consumption. However, even though there is always more pressing breaking news, we can't forget that these outlets have always been a source of "community" and places to gather both socially and politically. Yet as equality tide continues to swell and more spaces are seeking to accommodate the LGBTQ community, its no doubt that all of this accessibility has had a profound impact on "gay bars," in Little Rock. Not to keep tooting our horn, but COP 24/7 has stated over and over again that if "we are not there for them, then most likely they won't be their us." Case in point, Satchemo's has announced that June 30 they will be closing their doors.
With that news also they have announced this week of a reduction in weekly hours and a limited menu. This effort was the brain child of Joy Evans and family which previously own UBU and Gut Buster's both of which also closed. Ultimately there's too much to possibly unpack about "what had happen," except that perhaps this establishment from our vantage point, seemed to be spinning the big who and what are we" wheel that I suspect may have caused some confusion. After opening to great fanfare, this venue was presented as an answer to what was suppose to be a lack of "women centric" places.
Then afterwards or at some point things shifted to a being a "sports bar for women??" Moving on there was emphasis on its food which got mixed reviews including a lukewarm review in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. After that review, the place did more "360" transformations including d├ęcor, becoming a entertainment spot featuring local acts and also an attempt to court "families" from the nearby Stiff Station neighborhood. Apparently none of this really worked to give the place an "identity' or a direction that was going to attract or keep patrons coming back. In all actuality Satchemo's appeared to try too hard to be "everything for everybody," without perhaps realizing that maybe there's value in keeping your menu tight with your best selections, assess the market and if what you're offering is "really" going to fill a niche and don't forget that just because you build it they will come.
 With all that said, this market can be a tough one due to many factions including social media diversions, folks nesting, expectations, and the young set that has no clue as to how these establishment use to be a vital source of not only entertainment but finding like minded persons whom you could connect too. All of that is now too shifting to a by gone era as gay bars across the country are closing their doors because many have found limited use for their existence. 
Nevertheless, COP 24/7 can't forget the best of time and maybe a few times that we may not want to remember that happened in our engaging the local night life. In this pride month, its would be great to just "remember" those establishment such as "The French Quarter," Silver Dollar, Lil's Pub, Plumtastics, Garbo's, Sargent Prestons and so many more that have been apart of the LGBT history book that are gone but not forgotten. Thanks Satchemo's for trying to be their!