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

William Waybourn joins push to name Oak Lawn post office for Bill Nelson

William Waybourn

One-time Dallas activist William Waybourn, who now lives in Virginia, added his name to the drive to name the Oak Lawn Post Office after Bill Nelson.

In his letter to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Waybourn reminds the congressswoman that she was one of the original advisory board members of the AIDS Resource Center in the mid-80s, lending her expertise as a nurse as well as her political clout. She said she showed “courage and rejected fear” by putting her name out for such an unpopular cause as AIDS.

Waybourn and his partner, Craig Spaulding, started Crossroads Market with Nelson and his partner, Terry Tebedo, in the early 1980s. Waybourn also later served as president of the Dallas Gay Alliance.

Bruce Monroe and The Dallas Way: The GLBT History Project have been spearheading the petitioning project. They collected signatures at an event at Sue Ellen’s on Sept. 13, at Lee Park after the parade and at a Stonewall Democrats event at the Round-Up Saloon.

As Lone Star Ride co-chair Dan Babb signed the petition at the event at the Round-Up, he said Nelson was a teacher of his.

Read Waybourn’s full letter to Johnson below.

—  David Taffet

Camp to become AHF Texas regional director

Bret Camp in the Bret Camp Dental Suite at Nelson-Tebedo Clinic

Bret Camp is leaving Resource Center Dallas to become Texas regional director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

“I will dearly miss Resource Center,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to me over the last 17 years.”

Last year, Camp left RCD to deal with B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer. After more than six months of treatment, he returned to work with a clean bill of health as the center’s health services director.

During his absence, a new dental suite was outfitted and named for him at Nelson-Tebedo Clinic on Cedar Springs Road.

Last month, AHF opened its first Texas clinic at AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth. Camp will work out of the office at Medical City Dallas where a second area clinic is planned. The nonprofit organization is looking to expand into Austin and San Antonio and possibly Houston in the near future.

Camp said what attracted him to AHF was how client-centered the agency is.

“AHF provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay,” he said.

AHF is expected to open a clinic at Medical City to serve a Far North Dallas area that currently has no AIDS services and is one of the city’s hard hit areas with new cases of HIV.

 

—  David Taffet

Grand opening today for Magic Johnson Clinic at FW’s AIDS Outreach Center

Executive Director Allan Gould at AOC

AIDS Outreach Center, Tarrant County’s largest AIDS services provider, will host a grand opening for its new Magic Johnson Clinic at 6 p.m. today.

The clinic is at AOC’s office at 400 N. Beach St. in Fort Worth. Also opening is a new pharmacy to provide medications needed by clients.

AOC partnered with Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open the clinic. AHF is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the U.S. They operate 10 clinics in California, six in Florida, two in Washington, D.C., and one in Georgia. This is the first in Texas and the sixth designated as a “Magic Johnson” center.

AHC’s Condom Nation 18-wheeler has been in the DFW area through the weekend providing HIV testing and distributing condoms. It will also be at the opening this evening.

—  David Taffet

GIVEAWAY: Elton John’s new book “Love is the Cure”

Earlier this week, singer Elton John released his book Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS. In it, John recounts his own life and career during the height of the AIDS crisis and how the death of Ryan White both devastated and charged the singer to take a stand against the epidemic. This led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“This is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion. Why are we not doing more? This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer-and help to change-by writing this book,” John wrote.

We have two copies of Love to giveaway. How do you get one? We want to know what you would ask Elton John if you had five minutes to chat with him? Whether about his career, his advocacy or even his fun feud with Madonna, what would you want to know about the legendary gay icon? Send your questions to me here with “I Want Elton” in the subject line and winners will be selected on Monday. That gives you the whole weekend to think about it.

Good luck!

 

—  Rich Lopez

Pekers donates 6,000 bottles of water to AIN

Frank Holland

Frank Holland and Ron Nelson, owners of Pekers Bar in Oak Lawn, delivered 6,000 bottles of water to AIDS Interfaith Network to help homeless clients of the agency beat the heat, according to a release from AIN. The 200 cases of water will be distributed to AIN clients throughout the summer.

“Our clients don’t worry about electricity bills or air conditioning,” said Travis Gasper, AIN director of development. “They worry about having enough to eat and drink to survive. They will have one less thing to worry about this summer, thanks to the generous folks at Pekers.”

Each year AIN serves 2,000 individuals in North Texas battling HIV/AIDS. Half of them are without stable, permanent housing, leaving them in danger when the mercury rises. Proper hydration is essential to staying on HIV medications, which help prevent the further spread of the disease.

“We remain forever grateful to Pekers for their support,” said AIN Associate Director Edgar Carmona. “Their generosity means those most vulnerable to the heat will be able to stay hydrated and healthy this summer.”

Holland said the donation came from patrons and staff. And why did they help?

“Just because,” Holland said. “It was something that needed to be done.”

Pekers Bar just celebrated its fifth anniversary, and has supported HIV prevention efforts in the community since it opened. In addition to its water donations, Pekers has given more than $100,000 in cash to AIN.

—  David Taffet