Monday, June 15, 2015

Hotter Than July Outpost

It's getting hot outside and even hotter on the pages of COP 24/7! We back in the Big Chair after a swift trip to the nation's capitol to be apart of yet another national conference. As life would have it, all that you plan doesn't always go your way, but you "take a licking and keep on ticking!!" And so here we go to blast out all that has taken up the oxygen in the news cycle. Let's dive in...

Former Mr. Gay Arkansas Arrested

COP 24/7 has engaged this platform in raising awareness around the issue of HIV Criminalization and it's impact on those engulfed by judicial systems which seek to enforce such laws. Unfortunately many don't either understand the magnitude or the severity of how these laws can impact their lives. Elton Rhoades who is a Muskogee high school cheerleading coach is in jail on charges of rape and exposing others to HIV. Mr. Rhoades also is know by Tulsa locals as "Trey," and has a stage name, "Keaton Zane Paige," in which he used as a entertainer and male pageant contestant. Paige was a former Mr. Gay Arkansas US of A 2011.

According to published reports and accounts from News 6, Rhoades is accused of having consensual, unprotected sex three times with a 15 year old girl. The young person was a client of the Open Arms Youth Project which offers gay, lesbian and transgender youth a place to build a supportive community. Rhoades had been actively involved with the agency as a volunteer and is where he met the individual who was seeking counseling as she was transitioning to a male. Investigators state that "they started a relationship and then it was suspected that he may be HIV positive," said Corporal Eric Leverington with Tulsa Police.

Court documents say the teen came to police the same day she tested positive for HIV. The document also says when first interviewed Rhoades lied to them about having sex with her.
It says he then changed his story after listening to a recorded conversation he had with the minor about their sexual encounter.

Records show he was first diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and had unprotected sex with the teen in March of 2015.

Leverington said, "If you knowingly have it and then have sex with someone that is the crime itself."
At this point, Leverington isn't aware of any other victims but said he's not ruling it out and suggests anyone who has had sex with Rhoades to get tested. Now he faces three rape charges and three charges of exposing others to HIV.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
to address 2015 The United States Conference on AIDS

Pelosi and Taylor circa 1987

Leader Pelosi will speak on Thursday, September 10, at the United States Conference on AIDS' Federal Plenary in Washington, DC. At the plenary, for her tireless work in the fight against HIV, Pelosi will receive the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award from The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.  Since her first day in Congress, combating HIV and AIDS has been a priority for Leader Pelosi, stating in her first speech in Congress on June 9, 1987, that “…now we must take leadership of course in the crisis of AIDS.”

During the four years she served as Speaker of House, discretionary funding for HIV/AIDS was increased by over half a billion dollars. In that time, the bans on federal funding for syringe exchange and the travel ban for people with HIV/AIDS were lifted – fights Pelosi had been waging since her first years in Congress.

Pelosi spearheaded the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided significant benefits for those with HIV/AIDS by:

  • dramatically increasing access to Medicaid for people with HIV,
  • improving Medicare Part D for people participating in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP),
  • ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and
  • ending annual and lifetime caps on health benefits.

Please join us for this important plenary as we celebrate Leader Pelosi’s leadership and her receipt of the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award.  For more information, please go to the USCA webpage.

For more information on USCA Registration, USCA Scholarships, & USCA Agenda, please visit our web page.  Look for the 2015 USCA Smartphone Application to be available soon.  
Mid-South Conference Announces
The Memphis Ryan White Program is excited to announce the 2015 Midsouth HIV Conference will take place on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 with preconference sessions on Monday, November 16, 2015. The theme of the 2015 Conference theme is Better Together: Getting to Zero in the Midsouth.
The goal of the conference is two-fold. The conference will provide learning opportunities for people living with HIV, providers of HIV testing, prevention, and care, as well as other community stakeholders. In keeping with the theme, the conference will also offer unique networking opportunities for individuals representing a cross-section of our community, all united in their dedication to get to zero in the Midsouth.
More information will be provided over the next couple of weeks, including a call for workshop proposals, sponsorship opportunities, scholarships for people living with HIV, registration, and accommodations.

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