Tyler Curry joins Dallas Voice as weekly contributor

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Tyler Curry

Do you hear something sizzling? Maybe some high-energy music building in the background? That’s just Dallas Voice revving up as we begin to flex and introduce new material that reflects the mind-blowing dynamism of Dallas’ LGBT community.

Watch for the Dec. 13 issue as we introduce Tyler Curry as a weekly contributor. Tyler is published in the national media and is the power behind The Needle Prick Project. He also was named one of the 30 most influential LGBT people in Dallas. It’s like pouring nitro into our editorial tank. You might want to stand back. That sizzling content is liable to get on ya.

—  Steve Ramos

“Noah’s Arc” creator announces partnership with DFW Pride Movement to screen new film

Derrick Spillman announced today that his organization DFW Pride Movement will team up with Patrik-Ian Polk for a screening of his new film The Skinny. The director and creator of Punks and the TV series Noah’s Arc will be in attendance when the film screens in Dallas on April 20 at the Magnolia Theatre. Polk’s appearance will also include panel sessions to “discuss the HIV awareness story-lines in the movie and other sexual health issues of importance to the LGBT population.”

“I’ve been involved with the Black AIDS Institute since the early days of my Noah’s Arc television series, and I’ve been addressing issues of HIV and AIDS in my work since my first film Punks,Polk explains.So it makes perfect sense to partner with other African American LGBT organizations across the country to promote their great cause and highlight the HIV awareness issues raised in my new film The Skinny,” Polk says in the release.

The film has already opened in limited release in other cities but makes its debut here later this month. You can watch the trailer and read the entire release after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Need a condom? There’s an app for that

In perhaps one of the most innovative efforts to spread the idea of safe-sex and HIV prevention, MTV and iCondom have teamed up to create a worldwide map for condom distribution. The channel’s global youth HIV awareness and prevention campaign and charity Staying Alive has teamed with iCondom to “join them in their fight to help prevent the transmission of HIV by downloading the free iCondom app and providing details of their local condom dispenser / retailer.”

Georgia Arnold of MTV said, “An estimated 5 million 15-to-24-year olds are living with HIV and 2,500 young people are infected with HIV each day. We have partnered with iCondom with the ambition to make it easier for more people around the world to source condoms and reduce the transmission of HIV and STIs. A percentage of money made from the app will go towards Staying Alive Foundation grants which are awarded to young people working to prevent HIV in their local communities.”

Basically, you download the app for free and check to see where the closest condom dispenser location is. I have a guess ours is the 7-11 across the street, but I’m waiting for the app to download to see. It’s sort of like Grindr for rubbers and how many feet away they are. But then you can add to the map by entering in locations that might not already be on there. Simple, huh?

Although don’t be a d-bag about it. After loading the app, I see someone entered in the “location” title “Homeless Guy His Name is…” on Greenville Ave. I rated it one star for fail and responsibly entered the 7-11 store on Travis St.

Hey, I’m that kinda guy.

iCondom from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

—  Rich Lopez

Osito Foundation launches HIV awareness effort

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, conducted in 21 major cities and released last September, indicated that one in five men who have sex with men are infected with HIV — and of those infected, nearly half don’t know they have the virus.

Spurred on by those findings, the Osito Foundation, based in Spring, Texas, has launched its first website targeting HIV awareness, education and prevention, StoppingHIV.com.

The website, according to Osito co-founders Rod Castle and Carlos A. Obanda, offers “a short and straightforward” message “designed to communicate the message that every individual has to take personal responsibility in stopping the spread of HIV. The purpose of this website is to encourage people to make a personal commitment and to sign the online pledge.”

The website features an introductory segment that has music with a thumping bass beat and messages flashing across a plain, dark blue background urging people to act responsibly. The home page offers a “contract with yourself” regarding safe sex practices, and explains “the ABCs of safe sex”: Abstinence, Being faithful and using Condoms.

There’s more, of course, including an “HIV 411″ page with links to various online resources on HIV/AIDS.

“HIV is 100 percent preventable, and new infections could almost be eradicated overnight if every sexually active person would live by our motto: ‘I’m not going to GET IT; I’m not going to GIVE IT,’” said Castle, CEO of the Osito Foundation CEO.

Obanda, the foundation’s vice president, said Osito is planning HIV awareness and education events in more than 20 cities across the U.S. with the highest rates of HIV infection.

For those of us who have been living in, around and with the epidemic for more than 20 years, the information on the website might seem like old hat (although the music is great!). But obviously, considering infection rates continue to rise, there are plenty of people out there who haven’t gotten the message yet. So check out the site and spread the word. If it helps keep just one person from becoming infected, it’s worth it.

—  admin

Local Briefs

AOC plans Black HIV/AIDS Awareness event in Fort Worth

AIDS Outreach Center, in collaboration with the city of Fort Worth, will commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Monday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Worth City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St.

The theme for the event is “It Takes a Village” and AIDS Outreach Center’s Prevention and Outreach staff will provide testing at the event.

In addition, on Sunday, Feb. 6, the center’s Prevention and Outreach staff will offer testing at the Christ Center Missionary Baptist Church, 2126 Amanda Ave. in Fort Worth, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact AIDS Outreach Center’s Outreach Specialist John Reed or Cynthia Vargas at Johnr@aoc.org or Cynthiav@aoc.org for more information.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day  raises HIV awareness and reduces the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS within the African-American community, and encourages at risk individuals to get tested and know their HIV status to help stop the spread of HIV within one of the fastest growing segments of the population.

In 2011, AOC will celebrate 25 years as the leading organization in Tarrant and seven surrounding rural counties serving people with HIV/AIDS and their families, educating about HIV prevention and advocating for sound HIV public policy. For information, go online to aoc.org.

Dallas Pride auctioning dates, raffling dinners for AIDS Arms

Dallas Pride Cheer presents a Valentine’s Dinner and Date Auction Thursday, Feb. 10, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at JR.’s Bar & Grill, 3923 Cedar Springs Road, to benefit AIDS Arms.

Auction items include dinner and a date with a Dallas Pride cheerleader, and raffles will be held for gift certificates for dinners for two at upscale and fine dining restaurants.

OLOUC  presents program by 3 men exonerated after years in prison

The Oak Lawn Community Outreach Center of Oak Lawn Methodist Church will host “A Community Conversation: How Can Something Like This Happen?” on Sunday, Feb. 6, at 12:30 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall, located at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road.

The event features three men who were wrongfully imprisoned and spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.

The three, who co-authored the book “Tested,” will talk about how they held onto hope and reconstructed their lives.
Jeff Crilley, formerly of Fox 4 News and now president of Real News Public Relations, will moderate.

This event is free and open to the public.  For more information, call 214-521-5197 ext. 203.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Focusing on S. Dallas

Wiley says South Dallas AIDS Walk designed to target message of HIV awareness to a different community

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Auntjuan Wiley, right, and Jai Makokha
Auntjuan Wiley, right, and Jai Makokha

Dallas County has the highest HIV infection rate in Texas, according to county health officials, and some of the highest morbidity rates in the county are in two zip codes: 75215 and 7521o.

Both of those zip codes are in the South Dallas area, and yet, that area remains dolefully underserved when it comes to HIV/AIDS education, outreach and awareness efforts and HIV/AIDS services, according to longtime AIDS activist and educator Auntjuan Wiley.

“When it comes to HIV services and awareness and outreach, we focus on Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff. South Dallas always gets missed,” Wiley said this week. “And the only medical service provider for people with HIV in South Dallas is the Peabody Health Center.”

That’s why, when he was named executive director of the new Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation, Wiley immediately set out to find ways to fill that gap. And when he heard about the idea for an annual South Dallas AIDS Walk from Anthony Chisom, he decided right away to get involved. The first South Dallas AIDS Walk is scheduled for March 19, 2011.

The lead-up to the walk began last Thursday, Nov. 4, with a kick-off party that included Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson and more. Wiley’s co-chair for the walk is AIDS activist Jai Makokha.

Wiley is quick to stress that the South Dallas AIDS Walk is not meant to compete — either for participants or funds — with AIDS Arms’ LifeWalk, held each year in October in Lee Park. The South Dallas event, he said, is targeting a whole different audience.

And the walk “isn’t just all about the Anthony Chisom Foundation,” Wiley added. “Some of the funds will come to us, yes. But we have other beneficiaries, too.”

Those beneficiaries, he said, include The Afiya Center, which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health for women and girls; Welcome House, which provides housing and services primarily for African-Americans with HIV/AIDS; the Ugieki Foundation, which focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness and education and provides an online project management system for charitable organizations; AIDS Arms’ Peabody Health Center; and AIDS Interfaith Network.
Wiley explained that well-known interior and floral designer Anthony Chisom began his foundation, which provides financial assistance to people with HIV to help them pay rent and utilities and buy their medications among other things, after a trip to Africa where he saw the devastation the HIV epidemic had caused there.

“He knew then that when he came home he had to do something. He had to get involved. So he started the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation,” Wiley said.

Wiley said he and his steering committee are working to confirm Phil Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, as keynote speaker and grand marshal for the South Dallas AIDS Walk. But, he said, walk organizers need lots of sponsors, vendors, walkers and volunteers. And he hopes that many of the businesses and civil and faith community leaders in South Dallas will come on as partners in this effort.

He said the involvement of the business, civil and religious leaders will be vital to the walk’s success.

“South Dallas is, historically, a hard community to reach with the AIDS awareness and education messages,” Wiley said. “There is still a lot of the fear and stigma and shame surrounding HIV and AIDS in South Dallas that isn’t as strong any more in Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff. So it takes a different approach in South Dallas.

“It is very important that we have an aggressive and strategic community engagement piece to this effort. There needs to be a real conversation with the gatekeepers in this community, the community leaders,” he said. “If we can get them involved, then we have a better chance of getting our message to this community.”

Wiley said the walk will be an annual event, because a one-time thing won’t get the message across.

“You can’t go into this community just once with a message and then leave,” he said. “You have to stay there. You have to be visible. You have to let them know we care. We want them to know that this is ‘a walk in South Dallas, for South Dallas.’ That’s our theme.”

While the obvious goal is to raise awareness and funds, “it’s about a lot more than just charity and awareness. It’s about doing the work. Until there is a cure the work has to be done,” said Wiley, who this month marked his 15th year of living with AIDS and this year marked his 20th year of working in the HIV/AIDS field.
Wiley said, “This is about change. Dallas County has the highest HIV infection rate in Texas. South Dallas has some of the highest infection rates in Dallas County. That has to change. It is just time for a change.”

For more information, contact Auntjuan Wiley by e-mail at a.wiley@anthonychisomaidsfoundation.org or by phone at 214-455-7316.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: Do you get the message?

A group out of California called the One Life Initiative has created a new video intended to encourage HIV awareness. The video is titled “Take Action.”

A press release announcing the video says: “Even though the virus continues to propagate, it is practically invisible in the mass medias. We are thus presenting a video that aims to get people talking again. The video titled Take Action has been created to resonate to people at risk, raise awareness on HIV and encourage everybody to act. We believe it is essential to share the message with all those that deem themselves invincible to HIV.”

The press release also informs us that “The One Life initiative, whose website has become a worldwide resource on the fight for HIV prevention, is supported by many communitarian organisms.”

(I wasn’t familiar with the term “communitarian.” So I looked it up. It means “of or relating to social organization in small cooperative partially collectivist communities.”)

Anyway, I watched the video, and I have to say, it left me a little perplexed. Yes, it grabs your attention. But to me, the AIDS awareness message was, at best, very vague. I wouldn’t have had any idea the video was even about AIDS without the words on the screen at the end.

So, watch the video and tell us what you think? Is it effective?

Take Action Video from One Life / Une Vie on Vimeo.

—  admin

Forum set to promote HIV awareness

from staff reports

Resource Center Dallas will hold a community forum seeking input to expand awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS in an effort to battle the growing rate of HIV/AIDS in Dallas County, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the center, 2701 Reagan St.

The forum is being held in collaboration with Dallas County and other community partners. It is free and open to the public.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at the center, said, “The goal is to lay groundwork for a community-driven effort that will reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to increase awareness of the services available to the public.”

He noted that a recent CDC study found that in 2008, one in five — or 19 percent of — men who have sex with men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV. Nearly half — 44 percent — were unaware of their infection.
The forum is part of the “Greater Than AIDS” project which responds to the AIDS crisis in the United States by targeting the severe and disproportionate epidemic among the gay community and African-Americans. The effort aims to raise knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS and confronts the stigma surrounding the disease.

Resource Center’s forum concentrates on gay men and will target communities most heavily affected, based on HIV/AIDS incidence and prevalence data, to ensure its success. Information gained will be used in strategic planning to reduce the number of HIV cases in the Dallas metropolitan area.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

County to partner with community ASOs

Forums planned to gather ideas from community will focus on strategies to prevent HIV infection

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dr. Steven Harris, left, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price
EXTENDING THE FIGHT | Dallas County Health and Human Services Medical Director Dr. Steven Harris, left, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price discuss new efforts to fight the rising HIV infection rate in the county during a press conference on Thursday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Dallas County Health and Human Services Department officials announced Thursday, Sept. 16, that they are forming a new partnership with AIDS Arms and Resource Center Dallas to begin new HIV awareness and prevention programs.

“We’ve seen a resurgence of numbers,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson.

Among the initiatives announced were community forums to find new ways to create awareness and spread the message of prevention.

“The key is resident input,” Thompson said.

The county will also open a new testing clinic in far North Dallas, an area with increasing HIV rates and a lack of HIV services.

“If money could have cured this, probably we wouldn’t be here today,” said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

He said that an estimated one in five people infected with HIV in Dallas County do not know their status, adding that “HIV disproportionately affects certain populations.”

Among the groups with a recent increased infection rate are people age 50 and older. Saturday, Sept. 18 has been named National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. AIDS Arms has coordinated a number of testing locations around the county. Those locations are listed on the Dallas Voice website.

Dr. Steve Wilson, Dallas County’s STD/HIV medical director, said that early in the decade the area saw a decrease in the HIV infection rate. By 2006, there was a leveling off.
He attributed that, in part, to increased testing efforts by the county. He also said that current testing detects the virus earlier. At least 30 of the 850 to 900 people diagnosed locally last year would not have been detected with traditional testing methods.

Wilson said that three areas with most of the increase in infection rates are Oak Lawn, Oak Cliff and North Dallas. He said that to address the needs in those areas, the county was partnering with community-based organizations.

Bret Camp, associate executive director of Resource Center Dallas, said that early intervention produces the best clinical outcome.

“With the recent advances in HIV treatment, it is now a chronic, manageable disease,” Camp said. “Testing and education are our best weapons to fight the spread of HIV.”

He said that on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., Resource Center Dallas would host the first community forum on strategies to join together “to create a successful plan that will reduce HIV transmission and give us healthier communities.”

Camp said they are looking from input from people who are HIV negative and positive and HIV infected and affected.

AIDS Arms Behavioral Intervention Specialist Ed Jones said a second forum would be held in South Dallas at the Urban League, 4315 S. Lancaster Road, on Oct. 28.

Jones said that because on an increased need for HIV clinical services, AIDS Arms would be opening a clinic in Oak Cliff in addition to its South Dallas Peabody Clinic.

One group that has seen a significant rise in HIV infection in Dallas County is younger people age 13 to 24. In 2006, two 13-year-olds were diagnosed. In 2008, a 14-year-old, a 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds tested positive in Dallas County.

Rubin Ramirez
Rubin Ramirez

Price said that until recently, Dallas County was the largest in the country where condoms were not available to younger people because of an abstinence-only sex education mandate.

“In 1992, there was basically a ban by the court,” he said. “Let me say that I am very glad to stand here today and say that has been repealed.”

He said that purchasing condoms was not an issue. Condoms are available at the county health department for distribution.

“They are available as a protection mechanism,” he said. “It is available in your toolbox in Dallas County.”

Dallas County’s Chief Epidemiologist Wendy Chung said that the infection rate among 13-to-24-year-olds is 54 per 100,000. She said that represents a 30 percent increase in recent years.

Rubin Ramirez of Resource Center Dallas said that one of reasons for the increase in infections is apathy.

“People are immune to the message because of treatments available,” he said. “They think things are OK.”

He said the goal was to bring HIV awareness back to the forefront.

Price agreed and said that was a big problem in the African-American community.

“Magic made it. It can’t be that bad,” Price said referring to basketball player Magic Johnson who was first diagnosed with HIV 19 years ago. “There wasn’t anything magic about Magic, and we need to bring urgency to this issue.”

Currently, about 14,000 people in Dallas County are living with HIV. That is a 30 percent increase over the past six years. The growing number is partially due to longer life expectancies for persons receiving medications.

Of that amount, 67 percent of cases are among gay men and others identified as men who have sex with men. Women represent just 22 percent of the cases in Dallas County.
A disproportionately high percentage of HIV infections in Dallas County are among minorities. Hispanics account for 23 percent of the cases and blacks 48 percent.

While Dallas is the third largest city in Texas, it has the highest infection rate, according to AIDS Arms. Since 1981, 15,000 people have died of AIDS-related illnesses in North Texas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Concert notice: Hip-Hop for HIV is this Sunday

Hottie Omarion hip-hops for HIV awareness this Sunday.
Hottie Omarion hip-hops for HIV awareness this Sunday.

Returning for a third year, the City of Dallas, Dallas Community Colleges and Metro PCS (among others) host the Hip-Hop for HIV concert on Sunday. Omarion, Marques Houston, Roscoe Dash and more are on the bill for this afternoon-to-evening concert. The best part, it’s free — with a twist.

Knowing your status and “Testing for Tickets” is the core initiative of this annual event specifically for the age group between 15 to 30 years of age. “Testing for Tickets” allows those tested to know their status, be further educated on the disease and more importantly better informed on the social and medical services available to treat those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS locally, regionally and nationally.

Testing sites will be designated throughout the DFW Metroplex as Rickey Smiley, Mayor Pro- Tem Dwaine Caraway, KBFB 97.9 The Beat, The City of Dallas, and the MLK, Jr. Family Clinic collaborate with several community based organizations to begin confidential testing from May 26, 2010 to June 19, 2010.

Anyone tested will receive on site medical counseling but most importantly One FREE Ticket to gain entry into the concert June 20, 2010, beginning at 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM at The Palladium Ballroom located at 1135 South Lamar in Dallas, Texas which will feature national, regional & local Hip Hop artists.

For more information, click here.

—  Rich Lopez