Thursday, July 31, 2008
PEPFAR, authorized.
So Big Belt Buckle Bush signed the PEPFAR reauthorization which, among other things, lifted the travel restrictions against people with HIV.

Essentially, those people who were not allowed in the country were classes of aliens ineligible for visas or admission based on health-related grounds. The health-related grounds include those aliens who have a communicable disease of public health significance, who fail to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, who have or have had a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior, and who are drug abusers or addicts (see Boy George and Amy Winehouse).

So, for the first time since 1990, before protease inhibitors and cocktail therapies, when everyone was dying of things like PCP and PML, we can once again allow people with HIV to visit us in the U.S. Not that they haven't been coming here all along, geniuses, they've just not been telling you about it. Welcome to the 21st century on this one. Glad to have you here.

Congress and the president's failure to rectify serious flaws regarding PEPFAR’s prevention policies will have harmful implications for the health and rights of women and girls worldwide. These serious issues include funding directives for abstinence and be-faithful programs, the inclusion of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath, and the failure to integrate HIV prevention services with family planning services.

So yay. And boo. Again.

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Friday, July 25, 2008
It's all up to the Bushinator now...
The House on Thursday voted 303-115 to approve a HR 5501 which would reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The legislation allocates a total of $50 billion -- $48 billion of which would go to PEPFAR and $2 billion of which would go to American Indian issues.

Two major changes have been made with this year's reauthorization. I thank members of Congress for including both of them and despite conservative pressure to reject these changes, passage of the bill.

1) The first change includes a provision that would ease U.S. HIV/AIDS travel restrictions.

2) The second overturns an existing law that requires one-third of prevention funds be spent on abstinence and fidelity programs, instead requiring a report to Congress if countries do not spend half of prevention money on such programs. It ain't perfect but at least it allows countries, cultures and demographics where abstinence education is beside the point (e.g., sex workers) to have an out. Of course the legislation continues to contains an existing requirement that organizations receiving PEPFAR aid have a policy that opposes commercial sex work. Which I've written about before.

Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), not a friend of anything that involves critical thinking noted, "We have big hearts, but we need to use our brains," Rep. Dana said, adding, "We cannot afford $50 billion of generosity to foreigners." O Rly? 'Cause we seem to be spending that money in other places you've seen fit to give that generosity...Dana.

Bush is expected to sign the legislation next week. He'd better because frankly, we just don't need another round of this.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I saw this blog a couple of days ago and I thought I'd share it with all y'all but oh my FSM, how glad am I that I waited.

The blog is called Cake Wrecks.

First, you have to understand that growing up, my mom decorated cakes from home for a living. I learned to make perfect icing roses when I was about 12 or so. Mom made everything from wedding cakes to cakes that were entirely big boobs that said, "Now you can have your cake and eat it too!" (that's class, I tell you what).

Anyway, I have seen well decorated cakes and poorly decorated cakes but never have I seen cakes like those seen at Cake Wrecks.

Let me show you.

This cake, the cake that started the blog, was decorated by one literal minded person.

This beauty is for your girlfriend/boyfriend. I'm sure it will make her/him feel much better.

And this online ordering form needs some serious code revisions.

But this cake... well, it takes the cake. It's censored on the Cake Wrecks site, but you can see it in all of it's original glory at this site.

Wow. Really. Just wow. I don't know that I'd want that at my baby shower. Or any baby shower of anyone I knew. It just doesn't seem that...appetizing.

H/T Joe.My.God


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Elizabeth Dole should be ashamed of herself
Yesterday I wrote about the legislation on the senate floor, officially titled the "Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2008".

Elizabeth Dole has introduced an amendment to that bill which would add Jesse Helms name to the title.

From Joe.My.God
Jesse Helms, the man who in 1987 described AIDS prevention literature as "so obscene, so revolting, I may throw up."

Jesse Helms, the man who in 1988 vigorously opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS research bill, saying, "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy."

Jesse Helms, the man who in 1995 said (in opposition to refunding the Ryan White Act) that the government should spend less on people with AIDS because they got sick due to their "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct."

Jesse Helms, the man who in 2002 announced that he'd changed his mind about AIDS funding for Africa, but not for American gays, because homosexuality "is the primary cause of the doubling and redoubling of AIDS cases in the United States."

Many people hold Ronald Reagan responsible for adding to the early AIDS death toll by his inaction on the pandemic, but it was Helms' actions in thwarting early research that inarguably hastened the demise of many thousands of Americans. How many of my friends, of your friends, would be alive today if the life-saving medications had arrived just one fucking year earlier?

Fuck YOU, Senator Dole. Fuck you with something hard and sandpapery.

I don't really have much to add except that the HIV infected blood of millions of people is on the hands of Jesse Helms.

Elizabeth Dole may be rewriting history for herself as well. With her husband running for President, Ms. Dole, as President of the American Red Cross had the organization rewrite an HIV prevention manual to cater to Christian right sentiments about homosexuality, premarital sex and condom use.

I have spent 18 years attempting to undo the damage that Helms and Dole and their cronies did.
Their blood is on your hands too, Elizabeth.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
All the news that's unfit
Damn, there's a lot of news out there today but I'm just going to pick up one issue at a time (actually 2 because I can't help myself).

Today I'll spend a moment in the HIV mines and then a brief moment with J.Mac.

1. Knowing a country by the company it keeps

What do the following countries have in common?

Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Solomon Islands
United States

Any guesses? All of these countries prevent people with HIV from entry. Period. No exceptions.

This means that your friend with HIV visiting from the UK best not have his meds on him. It also means that the U.S. has not hosted the International AIDS Conference since the Act went into effect in 1987. This means that before every other scientific conference on HIV, numerous scientists, officials and community activists are effectively sneaking into this country.

The European Commissioner for Justice, Jacques Barrot, has raised the issue of people with HIV being banned from entry with Michael Chertoff, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, asking for the reason people with HIV remain barred from entry after all these years.

As HIV remains the only disease in the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes it inadmissible for entry in the United States we are far behind any sort of scientific rationale and we are still making laws based on fear, judgment and knee jerk reactionism.

Progressive-minded senators on both sides of the aisle have added a provision to repeal the ban to Senate legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Section 305 of the Tom Lantos & Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S. 2731) will repeal that ban.

To support the repeal, please email your senator to support this act.

It is ridiculous that my colleagues with HIV cannot come to this country to work. Not to mention, Andrew Sullivan may have to go back from whence he came, which frankly, sucks on so many levels. Mostly it sucks that I have to support Andrew Sullivan.

2. John McCain needs to think and then rethink. And then maybe think again.
John. Seriously? You don't believe in gay adoption? That's what you said. Here's the transcript from the New York Times (07/13/08):

Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

So here, let me parse this out for a moment. You and Cindy are adoptive parents. You believe that that girl, who was in need of medical treatment when you adopted her from Bangladesh 17 years ago would have been better off in that orphanage than with same gender parents. I would like for you to explain this.

Today, while news media is reporting that McCain is "backing off his previous statement," what he actually said (through his communications director) was that it is a "state issue." Which actually isn't a position at all. It's a cop out.

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Monday, July 14, 2008
The way we speak, how we refer to certain things affects the way we behave.

18 years ago, when I started working in the HIV field, I was amazed at how the media ignored the science to go with the vernacular - for instance, "AIDS victim" and "AIDS virus". A person who has HIV is a person with HIV, not an AIDS victim and it's HIV, a virus that may cause AIDS. The first is an unbelievably sensationalist term and the second prevents effective education about HIV transmission, prevention and treatment. I spent years undoing the damage that was done around that term.

I won't go into all of the media misuse of scientific terms because it could be an entire textbook.

Recently, Liss at Shakesville has been championing the cause against the defiant misuse of "sex" when the word that should be used is "rape". When a man has forced sexual intercourse with his daughter while keeping her in a basement, it is rape and should be considered as such by the media. I imagine it is search engines looking for the word "sex" that makes CNN continue using the "forced her to engage in sex acts" when the more concise term would be "raped her".

What brings up all of this rumination on semantics is this survey, commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc., which polled 1,043 "tweens" ages 11 to 14; 523 parents of tweens; and 626 teens ages 15 to 18.

The article, published by Reuters was entitled, "Young love often marred by abuse."

In the survey, among youths who reported sex by age 14, 33 percent said they had been hit, choked or punched, while 58 percent had been verbally abused. In comparison, about 10 percent of all 15- to 18-year-olds reported physical abuse by a partner, and 29 percent reported verbal abuse.

I don't know if author, Julie Steenhuysen, wrote this headline or not but what is described in this survey is not young love. When a teen hits another teen while in a relationship, it is violence. When the abuser apologizes and promises never to do it again, it is the beginning of a long road which often leads to someone being seriously injured or killed and too rarely results in the abuser going to jail. Romanticizing it as "young love" serves no further purpose than sensationalism.

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Monday, July 07, 2008
Los Angeles, love it, or bitch about it...
The question on AskMeFi yesterday was:

Okay LA folk... time to tell me... what are your favorite things about/in Los Angeles? Especially your favorite hidden secret stuff that maybe only locals know of. Or super good deals or scenes that make you happy. Stuff that actually makes you stop for a second and think, "Man, I love this place" whether you want to or not.
My answer is below although I thought y'all would get something out of looking at what everyone else had to offer.

First and foremost, the fact that L.A. is the city that never works. Any hour of any day the bookstores and coffeehouses are filled with people reading, loafing, listening to their iPods talking on their cells. I have always lived here and I recognize this as unique about our city.

On to more:
the L.A. Arboretum
Abuelitas on Topanga Canyon
Angeles Crest Highway on motorcycle
Newcomb's Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway
H.D. Buttercup
Hiking the Santa Susana pass and the fabulous rocks up there
Dinah's Family Restaurant
The palm trees lining Sherman Way
Watching flights come in from the limo lot at LAX
Watching flights take off from Dockweiler Beach around a campfire
Lack of traffic on Jewish holidays
Michael Levine's (and the rest of the garment district)
Hollywood Farmer's Market
Studio City Farmer's market
Bob's Big Boy on Riverside
Chandler bike path
The L.A. County Fair (and the hilarious commercials)
The Lotus Festival
The Dragon Parade at the Lunar new year

I could keep going forever, and I guess I just wanted this list to exist so that I could keep referring to it. I'm going to add more. Add yours in comments!


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