Get your cameras ready for A Day with HIV

Robin Doss

In a photo from the 2014 A Day with HIV gallery, Robin Doss of Fort Worth shows off her new red ribbon tattoo

“Everyone is affected by HIV, but we can do something about it.”

That’s the message driving A Day with HIV, an anti-stigma campaign launched by Positively Aware Magazine.

The idea behind the awareness campaign, now in its sixth year, is to confront stigma by sharing the pictures and stories of people who are affected by HIV. By showing that people affected by HIV/AIDS are just like anybody else. Over the past five years, organizers say, “the power of these images—of people at work, families at play, friends and lovers caring for one another—demonstrates a collective resolve to say, ‘this is who we are and this is how we cope—and live.’”

This year, A Day with HIV is Tuesday, Sept. 22. People are encouraged  to pick up a camera — a phone, a point-and-shoot, an expensive SLR or any other kind of camera — to capture a moment of their day to share it with the world. Then share that photo, along with a caption describing what is depicted in the photo along with the time and location where it was taken.

Share it by posting it on social media with the hashtag #adaywithhiv.

Email the photo and caption to

Upload it at

Emailed and uploaded photos will be featured in an online gallery, and certain high-res images will be published in the November-December issue of Positively Aware. Four photos will be chosen to appear on four different covers of the magazine.

Be sure to include the info about who is in the photo, what they are doing, where the photo was taken and what time it was taken.

Grab your camera next Tuesday and snap a pic. It’s an easy way to help in the battle to erase the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. And erasing the stigma is a first step in erasing the disease.

—  Tammye Nash

HIV criminalization bill to be voted on in House today


Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, left, and Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, right.

A bill that would use a crime suspect’s HIV status against them if they knowingly infected the victim will be voted on the House floor today.

SB 779 by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, passed a key hurdle on Sunday, May 24, to some advocates’ surprise.

The bill passed in the Senate despite witness testimony against it earlier this month but was considered dead without a House companion. The House voted to suspend the rules and swiftly passed it in committee. Should it be voted on the House floor today, advocates concede it will pass.

Texas would join 37 other states with laws using a defendant’s HIV status against them – laws that opponents say criminalize HIV.

SB 779 was filed at the recommendation of the Brazoria County District Attorney’s office. Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, who represents the area, is the House sponsor.

The bill was one of four HIV criminalization bills introduced this session, which has seen mixed results for advocates of those living with HIV and AIDS. Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, successfully moved HIV prevention and testing funding to funding for abstinence but it was later restored.

The legislative session ends Monday, June 1.

—  James Russell

Let’s hear it for Melissa: Happy 19th Anniversary

Melissa Grove

Melissa Grove, Legacy Counseling executive director (Photo by Chuck Marcelo)

No matter how dedicated you are, working in the HIV/AIDS field is a draining profession. For so many, many years, people were dying so quickly. Our AIDS activists were fighting to save their friends, and every death took a little more from them. Those involved with HIV/AIDS, whether as activists or caregivers — or both — burned out quickly.

Treatments have improved over the years. People with HIV/AIDS are living longer now, with better quality of life. But still, it is a difficult field in which to work.

And that’s what makes people like Melissa Grove, executive director of Legacy Counseling Center, so very, very special.

Today, the Legacy Counseling staff used the agency’s Facebook page to wish Grove a happy 19thanniversary as Legacy’s ED, and thank her for her service to the agency and to the community:

“Happy 19 year anniversary to our Executive Director, Melissa Grove M.S., LPC!

“Melissa Grove, M.S., LPC, Executive Director, has a background in Geri-Psychiatrics, Supported Housing, and Mental Health management. Ms. Grove has worked with Legacy since 1992 and opened and managed Legacy Founders Cottage since its inception in 1996. Prior to her position at Legacy Counseling Center she managed a sixty bed psychiatric unit for ADAPT of Texas, Inc. Other experiences include working with clients with schizophrenia, emotionally disturbed children, alcoholic Mescalero Indians, adults with retardation, terminally ill elderly and Haitian families. She has done research on the computerized DSM program, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Veterans, and attachment disorder. A therapist herself, Ms. Grove mans the 24 hour a day suicide crisis line for Legacy.

“Thank you for all of your leadership and commitment to Legacy over the years! From founding the Founders Cottage to opening our housing programs to putting together the largest conference in the nation for HIV positive women themselves, you are touching to many lives of those living with HIV/AIDS in unimaginable ways.

“Thank you!”

On behalf of the staff at Dallas Voice, let me just add that Melissa Grove is one of the nicest, funniest, craziest and most genuine people we have ever had the pleasure of working with. She has also always been wiling to work with us and make herself accessible to us whenever we need her help or input on a story.

Melissa, you make our jobs so much easier, even when you are not having the easiest time. Like your staff, we appreciate you, we love you and we hope to have the chance to work with you for many years to come.

—  Tammye Nash

DIFFA donates $428k to HIV nonprofits

DIFFA Grant 2014-076

DIFFA/Dallas awarded $428,000 to HIV/AIDS organizations — include $330,000 18 to North Texas-based groups — at a party on Sept. 11 at Roche Bobois. Among the recipients of funds from the 2013-14 DIFFA season were AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Bryan’s House, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice, Resource Center and The Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

The 2014-15 season kicks off with Burgers & Burgundy on Oct. 3, followed quickly on Oct. 15 with an announcement party revealing this year’s Style Council ambassadors. Clint Bradley is once again the chairman of DIFFA/Dallas, and the spring Collection will return to the Omni Dallas Hotel.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Federal cuts to food stamps and upcoming holidays put more pressure on food pantry


FedEx delivered 65 bags of groceries to the Resource Center

FedEx came to the aid of the Resource Center Food Pantry this week with 65 bags of groceries collected at a company food drive.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said more canned goods are coming from the North Texas Food Bank now that the government is reopened.

But despite continued support from the community, Resource Center is bracing for upcoming cuts in food stamp programs while preparing for the holidays.

Thanksgiving is approaching and with it come holiday comes special needs.

Daniel Sanchez, who runs the hot meals program and the food pantry, said he needs 14 turkeys for holiday meals. He wants to make sure clients can take food home for the long weekend. He said there’s plenty of room in the freezers to store the turkeys. He said he hoped a few groups, companies or individuals would each buy a couple of birds for the holiday meal.

In addition, he needs extra volunteers to prepare, set up, cook and serve on Nov. 25–27. anyone interested should call him at 972-786-5685.

McDonnell suggested another way to support the pantry was for a group, company or individual to sponsor a shelf. They’d make sure the pantry was constantly stocked with a particular item by either purchasing it themselves or with a steady cash donation.

Sanchez suggested groups could sponsor a lunch for the meals program anytime. He said a chicken fried steak lunch for about 50 people would cost $200, a taco bar for $150 or a ham casserole for $50. He also suggested sponsoring an ice cream bar for dessert, which he said he can do for $30.

McDonnell said he’s bracing for two upcoming cuts to food funding from the federal government. The 2009 Recovery Act ends Friday, meaning cuts to the Food Stamp program. The average decrease in benefits is $11 per person. The proposed farm bill that’s been stalled in Congress will also cut money for food stamps farther.

He pointed out that each cut puts further pressure on the food pantry. Most food pantry clients receive food stamps.

—  David Taffet

DIFFA wreath auction returns

BB2 Prom and FormalDIFFA isn’t just about its spring couture collection. Each fall, designers create one-of-a-kind wreaths — from the uber-fabulous to the tastefully elegant — to be auctioned off in support of DIFFA’s HIV/AIDS work. (I bid on and won this one last year.) This year, the champagne-and-hors d’oeuvres soiree is set for Nov. 7, at Dallas Market Hall, from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are $75, but the real treat is placing the winning on a cool wreath.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Legacy needs donations to outfit 24 apartments by next week

Ready Set HomeLegacy Counseling Center needs household items for 24 apartment units it’s preparing for people with HIV/AIDS who are homeless.

A grant is covering the cost of the apartments for one year and a bed, dresser, table and chairs but nothing else.

On Sept. 28, Legacy is holding a drive to outfit the apartments and make them homes. Items can be dropped off in the Legacy parking lot, 4054 McKinney Ave. from 9 a.m. to noon.

Items can be new or used.

Below is a list of things needed:

—  David Taffet

Dallas LGBT community continues to respond to food pantry shortage

Food Pantry

Donations provided some variety at the Resource Center food pantry this week, but the stock on shelves remains low.

Throughout the week, LGBT organizations have jumped to the rescue of the Resource Center food pantry, providing some variety, but the stock remains low. The pantry distributes more than seven tons of food a week.

North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Vedda sent a letter to more than 300 member businesses. He reminded them of why the pantry came into existence.

“The gay & lesbian community (as it was called at the time) took care of its own; no one else would,” he wrote. “Making sure that people with HIV/AIDS had food to eat was essential to their survival.”

He asked each business to make a $25 donation, which would total $7,500 in donations for food from the chamber.

Anyone who brings five cans to Fashionista GayBingo at S4 this weekend will be entered into a drawing for a variety of prizes including tickets to future GayBingo and GayBingo North.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas passed a hat at their meeting on Tuesday and sent Resource Center a check for $500. Log Cabin Republicans meets at Acme Social Club, 4900 McKinney at 6:30 tonight and will also be collecting.

Several of the bars are collection points for food including Dallas Eagle, JR.’s Bar & Grill and the Round-Up Saloon.

Dallas Voice is doing its own food drive and is a collection point for canned goods. Anyone who lives or works in the area is welcome to drop off canned food at the office during business hours. Items may be dropped at Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor off Mon.–Fri. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Aerial mosquito spraying could pose risks to people with HIV/AIDS

People with HIV/AIDS are at greater risk of developing severe complications from West Nile Virus, which has led to 10 deaths in Dallas County this summer. But people with HIV/AIDS could also face greater risk from exposure to the chemicals used in aerial spraying to combat the virus.

“The same people they’re trying to protect are the same people who are sensitive to the chemicals being dropped,” said Bret Camp, health services director for Resource Center Dallas.

One open letter signed by 26 doctors and other experts in 2001 said the chemical agents used in aerial spraying contain neurotoxins and can be dangerous to the treated area. The letter, distributed by groups opposed to mosquito spraying in New York City, specifically listed “immunosuppressed individuals, such as patients with AIDS and cancer,” among those who may be especially vulnerable.


—  admin

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