Kirven: Benny Longoria death certificate never signed

Benny Longoria

Benny Longoria

Dallas activist C.d. Kirven told Dallas Voice today, via email, that efforts to get Tulsa police to investigate the death of gay man Benny Longoria are moving forward.

A friend found Longoria, 40, dead in his apartment on June 20. But the man’s family said police did not contact them until a month later, that police had Longoria’s body cremated without notifying them and that police have refused to return his possessions, including his cell phone.

A representative of the company that manages the apartment complex where Longoria lived said that the apartment and most of his possessions were covered in blood when his naked body was found. Police have refused to investigate the case as a suspicious death.

Kirven learned of the situation earlier this week when Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano contacted her and asked if she could help the Longorio family find answers.

Today, Kirven said the case is being investigated as possible HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, and that she has helped the Longoria family filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kirven also said she is helping the family file a complaint with the Internal Affairs division of the Tulsa Police Department.

Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker reportedly told the family that Benny Longoria’s doctor verified that he died of a combination of ethanol abuse and HIV/AIDS. But Kirven said that when she contacted the office of Longoria’s physician, Dr. Frances Haas, she was told that Dr. Haas had not confirmed any cause of death and had not signed a death certificate.

Kirvin said today that she has obtained a copy of Longoria’s death certificate, which has not been signed by any doctor. She said Dr. Haas is mailing Benny Longoria’s medical records to his family and “wants nothing to do with Benny’s death.”

She also said that Capt. Alexander has said that because the doctor has not signed the death certificate, by law Longoria’s death has to be investigated as a suspicious death.

A memorial in celebration of Benny Longoria will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. at Compadres Mexican Grill, 7104 S. Sheriden Rd., in Tulsa. For information contact C.d. Kirven at 972-533-1593.

Kirven said that several TV stations have said they will be covering the memorial service and vigil, and that she was faxing a copy of the death certificate to KRMG radio in Oklahoma City, which is planning coverage of the case. She has also talked to a reporter with Vice.com.

Tulsa-based reporter Richard Fricker called Dallas Voice today in an effort to contact Kirven, and said that he knows of similar cases that have happened in Tulsa.

Dallas Voice will, of course, continue to follow this story as it unfolds, and will have a representative at the memorial service in Tulsa on Saturday.

memorial-flyer-Benny_Longoria

—  Tammye Nash

Malaysia Airlines crash claims 100-plus AIDS researchers, activists

Joep Lange

Joep Lange

The Sydney Morning Herald is among the news agencies reporting that more than 100 AIDS researchers, activists and medical workers on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia were among the 298 people killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine early Thursday morning.

Officials have said the plane, a Boeing 777, was shot down by Russian-led separatists using an anti-aircraft missile.

Former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange is said to be among those killed in the crash. New York Daily News is reporting that friends have confirmed that World Health Organization spokesman Glenn Raymond Thomas is also among the victims.

NY Daily News reports that the Boeing 777 departed from Amsterdam and was en route to Kuala Luampur when it was shot down in Ukraine about 25 miles from the Russian border. Among the 298 people killed were 154 from the Netherlands; 43 people, including 15 crew and two infants, from Malaysia; 27 from Australia; 12 people, including one infant, from Indonesia; 9 from the United Kingdom; 4 from Germany; 4 from Belgium; 3 from the Philippines; 1 from Canada; and 41 people “unverified.” Some Americans are believed to have been aboard.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas Bears presents GDMAF with its largest donation ever

bears

Dallas Bears recently presented the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund with a $28,100 donation, the largest the organization has ever received. GDMAF provides emergency funds for people with HIV when all other options for help through other agencies have been exhausted.

The organization was founded in 1994 after the death of Greg Dollgener, who taught his friends strength and courage through volunteering at various AIDS organizations and helping those less fortunate than himself despite his own battle with the disease.

—  David Taffet

Storm damages Legacy’s building

IMG_9860

All the glass is missing from the skylight at Legacy Counseling Center

Yesterday’s torrential storm did damage all around the city, and one space not spared was Legacy Counseling Center.

Melissa Grove, executive director of Legacy, jokes that she was “lying in her office getting a suntan,” because the storm blew out the atrium skylight window at the agency’s McKinney Avenue headquarters and counseling office.

“Despite the roof being blown off, we continued to serve our clients, because that’s what we do,” Grove said.

She said the building lost electricity and suffered some water damage. Pieces of the skylight smashed through the windshield of one agency counselor’s car.

Grove  said everyone is safe and agency operations continue as normal, but I suggested it might be a good fundraising opportunity.

“Hey, I’ll always ‘ho’ out for donations,” Grove said. Donations to help repair office damage can be made here.

—  David Taffet

Former drag queen runs for N.C. state Senate as anti-marriage Republican

SteveWiles

Steve Wiles

North Carolina Republican state Senate candidate Steve Wiles supports the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Not surprising until you learn that Wiles also was known as Miss Mona Sinclair who performed at Club Odyssey from 2002 until 2010, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Wiles first denied he was the drag performer but within three weeks admitted he was.

“I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young,” Wiles said.

He didn’t clarify what he apologized for. For entertaining? For raising money for AIDS organizations?

He also wouldn’t confirm or deny if he is gay.

Wiles also was a Miss Gay America promoter, although he was suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system.”

The Winston-Salem paper reported Wiles voted in the Democratic primary in 2008. By 2012, he was campaigning for the anti-marriage amendment that passed. In the current election, he has made the anti-gay law his primary issue.

Wiles explained his support of the amendment.

“I do not condone the things I did when I was young,” Wiles said.

Wiles has two opponents. One is the incumbent in this conservative district. The primary for the Republican nomination is tomorrow.

—  David Taffet

Legacy Counseling holds clothing drive

legacylogoLegacy Counseling needs clothing for its Grace Project Conference for women living with HIV. Women attending the May 2–4 conference will be given tickets they can trade for clothing items they can take home. Most of the women attending have family members also in need, so men’s and children’s clothing also is welcomed.

The clothing drop-off takes place in the Legacy Counseling parking lot, 4054 McKinney Ave. at Elizabeth Street on April 11 and 12 from 9 a.m.–noon.

Items needed include gently used or new women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, shoes, accessories (such as purses, scarves, gloves and hats), jewelry and bulk goody bag items for the women attending. Any undergarments donated must be new and still in packaging.

For more information, call 214-520-6308.

—  David Taffet

AHF presents AIDS is a civil rights issue

Al.Sharpton

The Rev. Al Sharpton

The Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Dallas on Saturday for an AIDS Healthcare Foundation town hall meeting. The evening’s theme is “AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue.”

Among the panel members will be Dallas Councilman Dwaine Caraway and Dallas County Health Director Zach Thompson. Yarbrough & Peoples will perform.

The town hall meetings takes place at Agape Temple AME Church, 3432 Mingo St. Feb. 22 at 6–9 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Today is Black HIV Awareness Day

cdcFeb. 7 marks the 14th annual National Black HIV Awareness Day.

In a statement, Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said:

“African Americans now bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States, accounting for nearly half of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and nearly half of those who have died with AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic.”

In his statement, he said blacks are not getting the care they need.

Among blacks who have been diagnosed with HIV, only 75 percent were linked to care and only 48 percent stayed in care.

Treatment guidelines in the United States recommend that all people with HIV start antiretroviral therapy regardless of the severity of illness. However, only 46 percent were prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and 35 percent achieved viral suppression.

Other statistics:

• CDC estimates show that blacks account for almost half of all new infections in the United States each year (44 percent) as well as almost half of all people living with HIV (44 percent).

• Approximately one in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetimes, as will one in 32 black women.

• Among blacks, men account for 70 percent of new HIV infections and women account for 30 percent.

• Within the African American community, gay and bisexual men are the most affected, followed by heterosexual women.

• Black men account for almost one-third (31 percent) of all new HIV infections in the United States.

• The rate of new HIV infections for black men is more than six times as high as the rate among white men, and more than twice that of Hispanic men.

• In a study of 21 major U.S. cities in 2008, 28 percent of black MSM were infected, compared to 16 percent of white MSM. Among the black MSM who were HIV-infected, nearly 6 out of 10 (59 percent) were unaware that they were infected.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center receives grant from Elton John foundation

Elton John

Elton John

The Elton John AIDS Foundation awarded Resource Center a $38,000 grant for its Latino HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention program, Valor Latino.

The grant will support existing services including a monthly social support group for Latino gay and bisexual men, Spanish language prevention materials and advertising.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said she was grateful to the EJAF for its support.

“HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts the Dallas-area Hispanic community and Valor Latino is actively leading efforts to reduce HIV infections,” she said.

In 1996, the Center established the first HIV prevention program to target Latino gay men in Dallas. Valor Latino is a comprehensive HIV prevention program offering bilingual and culturally appropriate education, outreach, counseling, testing and referral services with a focus on Latino gay and bisexual men in North Texas.

In 2012 and 2013, Valor Latino tested 1,627 Latino gay and bisexual men. Just over 4 percent of them tested positive. More than nine out of 10 of those diagnosed with HIV now receive medical care and services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Latinos are the racial/ethnic group most likely to receive late diagnoses.

Since 1992, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised and distributed more than $300 million for projects across the globe focusing on HIV prevention, harm reduction, community health and human rights empowerment campaigns, stigma eradication, and compassionate public policy development.

In 2013, EJAF granted $7.3 million.

According to its website, the 21 new and 35 renewal grants support organizations working to address some of the most critical challenges presented by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States and the Caribbean.

Resource Center has received this grant for Valor Latino each year since 2011. Other Texas organizations received funds from EJAF including Out Youth and Migrant Clinicians Network in Austin, International AIDS Empowerment of El Paso and Houston’s St. Hope Foundation and AIDS Foundation Houston.

—  David Taffet

Gay men push to end 30-year blood donation ban

Blood_Donation_12-07-06_1A push by activists to ease the 30-year-old blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men faces a key test this week as a federal panel hears results of the latest research, The Washington Times reported. The findings will be released amid growing pressure from politicians and advocates, including college students, to change the policy.

Critics say the ban is a hangover from the early, fear-filled days of AIDS, stigmatizing gay men and ignoring advances in treatment and detection in the decades since.

Supporters of the policy say politics, not science, is driving the proposed change, which would heighten the risk of spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when the medical demand for blood donations is decreasing.

Under Food and Drug Administration rules, men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977 are ineligible to donate blood. An acknowledgment of having male homosexual relations at any time in one’s life is enough to disqualify a potential donor.

“This policy is discriminatory and inadequate,” said a petition drive at WhiteHouse.gov started in early November by students at the University of Michigan.

The students’ solution is to change the questionnaire to ask prospective blood donors, “Have you had unprotected sexual contact with a new partner in the past 12 weeks?”

—  Steve Ramos