Micki Pacific leaves Resource Center food pantry, moves to Northwest

Micki

Tree hugger Micki Diane Pacific

Micki Diane Pacific left Resource Center this week where she was manager of the Food Pantry and hot meals program.

During her tenure at Resource Center she led the team that started the GEAR transgender program, and the Trans Health Clinic.

“I am moving to Washington state to be a socialist, tree-hugging hippie!” she said. “I plan to get a kayak and get my snowboard back out on the ski slopes there.”

In Washington, she’ll be part of several worker-owned cooperatives and helping with some new start-up businesses.

Pacific served in the Army working on top secret missions for the NSA. She also is a live sound engineer who has worked with more than 180 national performing artists, including John Fogerty, ZZTopp, Genesis and The Monkees.

“I will miss a lot of the great friendships that I have here,” she said.

During her 10 years at Resource Center, she estimates her programs have distributed more than 5,000 tons of food.

“It’s been an honor to be able to be part of that,” she said.

—  David Taffet

University of Houston student targeted in homophobic attacks wins election

Kristopher Sharp

Kristopher Sharp plans to use his position as vice president of the University of Houston—Downtown to educate the campus on diversity next school year.

Sharp and his running mate, Isaac Valdez, were elected by the student body last week. Sharp was the target of anti-gay attacks throughout the campaign, including a flier that listed Sharp’s HIV-positive status with medical information on the back. In the weeks that followed, Sharp said graffiti stating “Issac + Kris=AIDS” popped up in bathrooms.

The university launched an investigation and Sharp said he is working with the administration. He’s also hired a lawyer for his protection, but he said he doesn’t want to press charges when the person responsible is found. Instead, he wants the university to place them on academic probation.

—  Anna Waugh

AIDS Walk South Dallas distributes funds

AWSD checks

Walk director Auntjuan Wiley, left,  presents check to AIDS Interfaith Network Director Steven Pace.

AIDS Walk South Dallas distributed $4,000 to its beneficiaries last week.

Kidscapes Foundation and AIDS Interfaith Network each received a check for $2,000. In addition to distributing funds and paying all expenses, walk director Auntjuan Wiley said his organization raised enough to retain seed money for next year’s event.

More than 200 people registered for the walk that took place on March 16 and 512 people attended the event at St. Philip’s School on Pennsylvania Avenue.

HIV and syphilis testing was done before and after the event. Of the 27 people tested, one person tested positive for HIV and got into treatment and another person got back into treatment.

Wiley said plans are already underway for next year. St. Philip’s School will host the event again. The area is one of the hardest hit in Dallas for new HIV infections.

The 2014 walk will take place on March 22.

—  David Taffet

Houston student targeted for HIV status, ‘homosexual agenda’ in election

Kris.Sharp

A flier circulated on a Houston college campus this week targeted a student body vice president candidate’s sexual orientation and HIV status.

Kristopher Sharp, a junior social work major at the University of Houston-Downtown, said administrators called him in to meet with them on Tuesday and he learned about the anti-gay flier.

The flier, above, has a picture of him with an X over it below the caption, “WANT AIDS?” and urges students not to support him and his running mate’s “homosexual agenda.”

On the back of the flier is a copy of a medical document from one of Sharp’s recent doctor appointments that contains his home address, phone number and HIV status.

Sharp, 23, said he’s out on campus and is open about his HIV-positive status, having spoken about his experience with the disease at a World AIDS Day event. He said he keeps a folder of medical forms in his student senator desk in the student government office since his doctor is a few blocks from campus. He said he recently noticed forms missing.

Seeing the flier and realizing someone took his forms shocked him.

“I was devastated,” Sharp said. “I knew going into this that there would be some people who wouldn’t support me because of who I am.”

—  Anna Waugh

ExxonMobil funds summer interns at 2 AIDS agencies

Melissa Grove

Melissa Grove

ExxonMobil is funding summer internships for college students at 30 area nonprofit organizations, including AIDS Services Dallas and Legacy Counseling Center.

The Legacy intern will assist Program Director Brooke Nickerson at Legacy Founders Cottage.

“Brooke’s job is challenging,” said Executive Director Melissa Grove. “I liken it to having seven sick family members living at your house and your job is to coordinate all of their care, ensure the house is moving smoothly, get them to appointments, pick up medication and grocery shop. She welcomes the help!”

The ASD intern will work with the children living at the facility, according to the agency’s CEO Don Maison. He said they’ve had an intern funded by Exxon for about 10 years who takes the children to Six Flags, the library and museums.

“Keeping them off the street,” he said.

Also among the 30 agencies are the Center for Nonprofit Management, which has been a good resource for a number of LGBT and AIDS organizations and Promise House, which partners with Youth First Texas for emergency youth shelter and transitional living.

Several arts organizations will have ExxonMobil interns, including Dallas Black Dance Theater and Undermain Theater.

College students interested in applying should contact the agencies.

—  David Taffet

A preliminary assessment of Bush 41′s legacy on LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS

President George H.W. Bush remains in guarded condition in the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle.

His prognosis is unclear, but now seems like a good time to look back on Bush 41′s legacy on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues.

Bush came into office on Jan. 20, 1989 promising a “kinder, gentler nation.” That was wonderful news to the gay community that had been ravaged by AIDS. During the previous eight years, the nation had been led by a president who had uttered the word AIDS for the first time just a little more than a year before.

Locally, gay-rights advocates were focused on things like police stings at Reverchon Park and employment discrimination, but Bruce Monroe, who was president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance in the early 90s, said national LGBT groups were primarily focused on HIV/AIDS.

When Bush took office, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act were still an entire administration away. At that time, service members who were found to be gay or lesbian were court-martialed, imprisoned and given dishonorable discharges. And the concept of marriage equality was still several years away.

—  David Taffet

HIV infections on rise among young gay, bi men, according to new CDC report

HIV infections are on the rise among young gay and bisexual men, according to statistics released this week by the Centers for Disease Control.

For the past decade, new HIV cases have remained stable at 50,000 per year. In 2010 there were 47,500 new infections.

New infections among young gay and bisexual men ages 13-24 rose 22 percent from 2008 to 2010. African-American young gay and bisexual men account for the largest number of new infections — 4,800 in 2010.

Gay and bisexual men accounted for 63 percent of all new HIV infections — an increase of 12 percent from 2008 to 2010.

The annual number of new infections in the U.S. has remained stable despite continued increases in the number of people living with HIV, indicating that HIV testing, treatment and prevention programs are making an important impact — but incidence still persists at far too high a level, according to the new CDC report.

The estimates are made to help the CDC focus HIV prevention efforts where the need is greatest.

The National Minority AIDS Council issued the following statement in response to the statistics:

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Dallas’ Otis Harris Jr. talks about living with HIV on MTV

Otis_GTADallas_138For World AIDS Day, MTV is airing I’m Positive, which featuring Otis Harris Jr., a local 25-year-old who tested positive for HIV and is part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign. Dallas Voice featured Harris in a story several weeks ago.

Harris shares his story of contracting HIV and explains the importance of spreading awareness.

For a year, Harris was afraid to tell his father that he tested positive. But his father’s reaction was that he loves his son and now is participating in the Greater Than AIDS with his son. And his reaction to seeing himself on a billboard with his son?

“Now my fat face is up there,” Harris Sr. said.

On World AIDS Day, Harris will be at the Dallas event Saturday at Main Street Garden, from 3–6 p.m. Watch a video preview of Harris’ appearance on I’m Positive after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Donation allows Resource Center to upgrade dental clinic equipment

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox, left, is shown with Ed Wakin, who donated new dental equipment that will make the delivery of dental services more efficient for the center’s clients.

Resource Center Dallas dedicated new equipment Thursday in its dental suite that will make delivery of service more efficient and will allow its dentists to serve more clients.

The new digital equipment cuts out the 20-minute processing time and eliminates the need for disposal of chemicals, said Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox. Electronic storage of information becomes more efficient and saves space.

“We can diagnose and treat earlier,” Dr. LaShawn Shaw said.

Shaw said if she needs to refer a patient to another dentist for an additional procedure, the digital X-rays can be emailed. She said this machine also exposes the patient to less radiation than traditional dental X-ray machines.

Ed Wakin made the donation for the purchase of the equipment.

“I was just seeing what Resource Center did,” he said. “I was so impressed. We discussed the needs and it took me about 10 minutes to make the decision to help with this gift.”

“People forget how important oral health is to overall health,” Shaw said. She said dental health is important for people with HIV to have proper nutrition. It’s also hard for someone with HIV to return to the workforce if they can’t talk and present well.

—  David Taffet

OraQuick home HIV test goes on sale

OraQuick’s flip chart instructions

Orasure’s new in-home OraQuick HIV test is now available in stores.

The test can detect HIV beginning three months after contact. Using it earlier than three months after a “risk event” may not produce an accurate result. Other rapid tests that can detect the virus within a few days of contact are still only available through a doctor or HIV testing facility such as  the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic or the Dallas County Health Department.

Ron Ticho, Orasure’s senior vice president for corporate communications, said this is the same test doctors and other testing facilities have used for 10 years. With more than 25 million tests done, OraQuick is more than 99 percent accurate, he said.

Since receiving approval to offer a home test kit in July, OraSure has trained phone counselors to answer questions and developed and revised its instructional material that comes with the test kit.

“We took some time to develop a test kit the consumer could use,” Ticho said.

He said the kits went through two tests — observed and unobserved. In the observed test, the company watched people open the package and test themselves as they followed the instructions. In the unobserved test, people took the kit home.

—  David Taffet