FEEDBACK: More on District 14, Leppert’s tweet on DOMA decision

More on District 14

I appreciate your having published my letter in the Feb. 18 Dallas Voice (“Looking at District 14”). And in the interest of fairness, I want to add two more sentences about Angela Hunt.

Angela is not just the incumbent, she is a good friend to the LGBT community, standing by us, parading with us, even proposing a creative funding option when the city erased four of our local HIV/AIDS outreach/education/prevention programs from the 2010 budget.

Incumbent Angela Hunt and challenger James Nowlin — come on, lucky fellow District 14 residents! Register and vote!
Phyllis Guest, Dallas

Leppert’s Tweet on DOMA decision

Responses to an Instant Tea blog post regarding Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s tweet criticizing President Barack Obama for directing the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court:

As a recent new resident to Dallas from Iowa, as well as a civic/community activist for the LBGT and other diverse communities, this is just plain awful and beyond ignorant of Leppert. Lord, I guess stupid exists all over this country. I’m sure those in Dallas are smarter than Leppert’s way of thinking.
Carlos

He’s been reading Sarah Palin’s playbook really closely:
1. Quit your job early — check
2. Say ignorant things about the LGBT community — check
3. Look stupid and incompetent on TV and lose your election — in progress.
Michael

In his first step towards candidacy, Tom chooses to come out of the gate with divisiveness. He questions the leadership skills of our president, yet his embracing the gay community when it was politically convenient only to abandon those who embraced him when it no longer serves his purpose shows a total lack of integrity. Tweeting Tom has let his hypocritical fingers expose him as just another political opportunist whose own idea of leadership is to follow whatever it takes to get elected. So disappointed. So unnecessary.
John McGill

Helen Keller could see through Tom Leppert. I’m glad he’s gone!
Okln

I don’t think anyone who had an ounce of knowledge of local politics ever believed that Tom Leppert was any sort of “friend” to the local GLBT community. One need only re-examine all the shenanigans which went on in the election vs. Ed Oakley to find your answers.
Kevin Hollingsworth

Disgusting. So when’s rally? I’m in.
Scott Stevenson

Sad. Very sad. I can’t tell you who I will be voting for in the upcoming Senate election, but I do know who I will NOT be voting for!
Charles Goodman

I call bullshit on this. Now you see why he joined the First Baptist Church of Dallas — pandering to that crowd early for votes. I attended a lunch two years ago when the Dallas gay chamber hosted a press tour. Tom Leppert attended and spoke so highly of the LGBT community and blah blah blah. Politics as usual. You sorry SOB.
Uncle JoJo

Leppert is an opportunist. It was obvious when he took office and it still is. He will say and do whatever he needs to gain what he wants. His benevolence toward the LGBT community was a step of expediency. It avoided any direct conflicts and kept him from gaining any strong enemies. On a local level, the LGBT community in Dallas has clout. On a state level, not so much. And so, under the bus we go.
Hardy Haberman

I’m just left wondering why he was invited to participate in not one, but two gay Pride parades. Anyone who pays attention to politics could see this day coming from a hundred miles away and knew that Leppert was not a true friend of the community. I guess the upside is that maybe this will come back to bite him in the ass. If there’s going to be hate in office, I’d rather it be the hate I know than the hate that’s trying to be my friend.
Wonk

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25.

—  John Wright

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