AIDS funding pioneer Pallotta to speak Friday

No one disputes that Dan Pallotta was a pioneer in raising awareness about AIDS and HIV, organizing the California AIDSRide from 1992 to 2002, as well as North Texas’ AIDS ride from 1999 to 2001. It was around that time Pallotta started taking flak for not spending resources well; he was roundly criticized for spending $400,000 to raise $1 million, a ratio most contributors to charity found off-balance. But while Pallotta stopped fundraising for those organizations, he didn’t exactly take the criticism lying down. In 2010, he published Uncharitable, a book that argued there are two rules (those for charities, and those for businesses) and that non-profits should be more entrepreneurial in order to be more competitive … and, presumably, bring in more capital. In short, he says the question “What percentage of my contribution goes to charity?” is outmoded thinking. He’s speaking about this divisive issue at Dallas Social Venture Partners’ Social Innovation Luncheon Series, which will be held at the Tower Club inside Thanksgiving Tower on Friday, April 13. The lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at DSVP.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

25 ways to fight AIDS

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.

But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.

25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.

24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.

23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.

22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.

21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.

20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.

19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org

18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.

17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.

16. Say AIDS out loud.

15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.

12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.

11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.

10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.

9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.

8. Wear a red ribbon.

7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.

6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.

5. Get angry.

4. Get over your anger.

3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.

2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.

1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.

—  admin

Council member Jones to be first cisgender reader at Houston Day of Remembrance

Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones

Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones is scheduled to be the first cisgender reader in the history of Houston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, one the events sponsors, says that Jones was originally approached to be a speaker at the event because of her advocacy for trans children, but that she requested to read instead.

“I begged to read, I begged them,” corrects Jones, “they asked me if I wanted to speak and I begged them to read instead because it’s profound and it touches you. I think it’s better to read because it’s important.”
Jones said she was particularly moved at last year’s Day of Remembrance by the story of 17 month old Roy A. Jones who was beaten to death by his babysitter for “acting like a girl.” “I was so touched when they read about the baby that was killed,” said Jones, “the readers tell the story.”

Jones led efforts this year to encourage local homeless youth provider Covenant House to adopt a nondiscrimination policy that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. She used her position on City Council to threaten to cut Covenant House’s funding unless they addressed accusations of discrimination. That threat persuaded the organization to overhaul their policies and begin regular meetings with community leaders to discuss their progress in serving LGBT youth.
The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus.

—  admin

We Were Here, AIDS documentary at 14 Pews

We Were HereWe Were Here, the award winning documentary of the early days of the AIDS crisis, premiers at 14 Pews theater (800 Aurora) Saturday, November 20, at 4:30 pm. The film, from director David Weissman, will be proceeded by a panel discussion on the state of the AIDS crisis today.

I came out in 1998, right at the tail end of the worst days of the AIDS crisis. I remember, with vivid clarity, the days of the walking wounded: when every other gay man I met would tell how their doctor said they should have died five years ago, when the community told time by recalling if an event took place before or after a certain person’s funeral.

Fortunately those days are largely behind us, but as new HIV infections continue to rise and we struggle to maintain funding for medications that are keeping people alive (at a cost of thousands of dollars a month), it’s important that we never forget the early days of the pandemic. For people of my generation and younger the mysterious “Gay Plague” that threatened our community in the early eighties can seem more like a fairy tale monster than the horrifying crisis it was, and is.

We Were Here tells the real life stories of five people who survived. Their mundane and profound recollections highlight, not only their personal experiences, but the broad political and social upheavals unleashed by the crisis. From their different vantage points as caregivers, activists, researchers, as friends and lovers of the afflicted, and as people with AIDS themselves, the interviewees share stories which are not only intensely personal, but which also illuminate the much larger themes of that era: the political and sexual complexities, and the terrible emotional toll. The film highlights the role of women – particularly lesbians – in caring for and fighting for their gay brothers.

Tickets for We Were Here are $10 and can be purchased at 14pews.org.

After the jump watch the trailer for We Were Here.

—  admin

HRC Ready for Federal Funding Battles

The following is from HRC Senior Public Policy Advocate Andrea Levario:

As we told you in late December, funding for federal programs is set to run out on March 4, 2011. Over the past few weeks, House appropriators have been cobbling together another stopgap measure to keep the government running for the remaining seven months of this fiscal year.  Last night, Harold Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, revealed the funding package for the balance of FY 2011. Using a chainsaw, rather than a scalpel to make targeted cuts, the Republican appropriators were able to meet their unprecedented and unreasonable savings of target of $ 100 billion.

The House majority’s proposal would defund key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The health reform law provided one billion in new funding to expand Community Health Centers (CHCs), the continuing resolution as drafted would zero out that funding.  Millions of Americans, rely on these primary care centers and providers for basic health care services.  For LGBT people, the CHCs have and continue to be at the frontline in the fight against HIV/AIDS and they have been in desperate need of additional funding to continue services to a growing patient base. The resources to train health professionals to deliver those services, in CHCs or in other settings, were also placed in the unnecessary column by the majority.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative which had received $ 114 million to provide comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education to young people to help reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs was zeroed out.  And, the proposed CR would reinstate the rider to ban funding for syringe exchange programs in the District of Columbia which we have fought hard,  along with our coalition partners for years, to have lifted. 

Earlier in the week Chairman Rogers released a more modest plan which would have curtailed spending by $ 32 billion.  After being rebuffed by new members who pledged much deeper cuts, the current proposal was cobbled together.  Next week the House will vote on that package which is FIVE times larger than any other discretionary cut package ever considered by the House, and those reductions are expected to be made not over a full year but a mere 7 months!

As happened with the effort to repeal health reform, the leaders in the Senate are not onboard with their House colleagues. They acknowledge the difficult financial situation, but plan to stand firm to protect programs to ensure the health and safety of all Americans.  All lawmakers agree that the country’s deficit must be reduced. The real leaders are those that recognize programs to ensure the health of our citizens, in the short and long-term, are investments in the well-being of our country.

Real funding battles are looming and we are preparing. HRC will, at every opportunity, alone and in partnership with other progressive groups, fight to preserve the dollars to address HIV/AIDS, implement the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

President Announces Funding Priorities for FY 2012

The following is from HRC Senior Public Policy Advocate Andrea Levario:

Yesterday, the White House released its proposal to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2012.   These are difficult economic times to be sure, but President Obama, again this year, presented a budget which either increases or maintains spending for HIV/AIDS programs.   This is the second year in which funding for critical health programs have been improved, and of course, is long overdue. 

In recognition of the toll that HIV/AIDS continues to exact from communities across this nation, the President showed leadership in recommending new resources to help fight the epidemic.  At the Department of Health and Human Services the overall investment in combating the epidemic now stands at $ 3.5 billion.  Included in those funds is $ 858 million for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $ 58 million over FY 10.  Another $ 80 million of new money is recommended to assist states in providing life-saving medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs).   The ADAPs are one component of the critical treatment programs under the Ryan White CARE Act, which also received an $ 88 million increase in funding.  Federal HIV/AIDS research efforts at the National Institutes of Health will benefit from an additional $ 74 million taking the overall portfolio to $ 2.7 billion.   

Last July, the President announced the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).  At the time, HRC and others expressed concern that no resources accompanied the NHAS for implementation. Now, the FY 2012 budget includes new resources ($ 10 million) for the Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning (ECHPP) initiative, to aid metropolitan areas most affected by the HIV epidemic, bringing the overall funding for ECHPP’s to $ 22 million in FY12.  An additional $ 20.4 million is provided to support cost-effective evidence based demonstration projects, and to test prevention interventions to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people.

As it did last year, the HHS budget proposal also defunds disproven abstinence-only education programs in favor of teen pregnancy prevention efforts that provide evidence-based, medically-accurate resources to reduce the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The President’s budget increases funding for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the rigorous enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws, which includes the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It also increases funding for DOJ’s Community Relations Services to prevent and respond to community tensions that can lead to hate crimes.  In addition, the budget calls for $ 5 million to fund a DOJ program to oversee a comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence and effects of sexual abuse in prison, which effects vulnerable prison communities including members of the LGBT community.

The current economic environment has forced the Administration to make difficult decisions about programmatic funding, which will have serious ramifications in years to come.  We applaud the President for his continued support and recognition of the need to strengthen civil rights enforcement and to make critical investments in health programs which serve and benefit LGBT Americans.

Click here to view an OMB budget fact sheet on expanding opportunities for the LGBT community.

Click here to view an OMB budget fact sheet on fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

NYC City Council Restores Funding for LGBT Homeless Youth

The NYC City Council has restored million to the city's budget including money that was cut from LGBT homeless youth programs late last year.

Quinn Earlier this week, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg was criticized by Carl Siciliano, the executive director of The Ali Forney Center, the city's largest provider of shelter and services for homeless LGBT youth, for making an "It Gets Better" video encouraging gay teens to come to New York while the city slashed funding for many of those at-risk teens.

Siciliano responded to the restoration of the funding in a statement:

"This morning City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn (pictured) and Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia Jr. announced that the Council and Administration have reached a budgetary agreement on the Fiscal Year 2011 financial plan, that fully restores the spending reductions to homeless youth programs proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in the November financial plan. This is wonderful news for the homeless youth of our City, particularly for homeless LGBT youth who would be disproportionately hurt by the proposed cuts. I am profoundly grateful to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the Council Assistant Majority Leader and Youth Services Committee Chair Lewis Fidler for their strong and dedicated leadership in seeking to have these cuts restored. Thousands of homeless youth have been protected by their compassionate leadership."

Said Council Member Lewis Fidler, Chair of the Council's Youth Services Committee: "On behalf of the 3,800 runaway and homeless youth who sleep on our City streets every night, I say thank you. Restoring the cuts to shelter services for these kids, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, is a huge win for those who care about children. Our ability to restore some measure of the cuts to after-school services reflects the Council's priority supporting the care and education of our children and the importance of these programs for our future. Special thanks to Speaker Quinn, Finance Chairman Recchia and the Council staff for banging out this deal in a fiscally responsible way."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

LGBT Clinic Passes Funding Goal

HOWARD BROWN HEALTH CENTER X300 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Howard Brown Health Center of Chicago has surpassed its fund-raising target by more than 0,000.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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House Advances ADAP Funding

MAN TAKING MEDICATION PILLS HIV COCKTAIL AIDS X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMThe U.S. House of Representatives has voted to allot an additional million to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program in 2011.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin