November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010
HIV Stigma and Discrimination

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday with Dab the AIDS Bear and me still in Pensacola, Florida. I hpe you are hvaing a safe and great week so far.

Had to be up early again today to take Dad for another doctor appointment. I am slowly getting the picutre of his current health status after speaking to a few of his doctors. Then after a quick trip to the pharmacy and WalMart, we headed back to the house.

I just had enough time to change close and head to our local PBS station for an interview and to tape promos for the upcoming AIDS Walk this weekend. I laughed when they called before I left and told me to be early for hair and make up. Told the booking person that I did not have enough hair for them to do anything wth it and I may be gay but not gay enough to want them to put makeup on me. LOL. The entire process ended up taking about two and a half hours and was a pleasant experience.

We discussed HIV stigma and discrimination. Below is what I had written for the taping today.

It has been thirty years since the CDC reported the first cases of HIV, and yet we have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination. Fear and ignorance about HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV remains a serious problem that both marginalizes people and poses barriers to treatment and care. I urge advocates, educators and policy makers to look to this report about the lives of those with HIV and use it to inform their decisions. All levels of government, organizations and individuals who serve and advocate for people living with HIV must work to increase the public's knowledge about the ways HIV is and is not transmitted; eradicate policies and practices that discriminate against people based on their HIV status; and enforce antidiscrimination laws to protect the civil rights of people living with HIV.

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy issued by the Obama Administration this past summer points out that stigma and discrimination continue to fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country. The United States' first ever national strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS makes specific recommendations for actions that should be taken to reduce or eliminate the types of harms. In the coming year, I to press the federal government, as well as legislators and policymakers at all levels, to address these critical issues as they implement the national strategy.

Highlights from HIV Stigma and Discrimination in the U.S.: An Evidence Based Report:

* 2009 survey of barriers to health care among LGBT and HIV communities in the United States found that nearly 63 percent of the respondents who had HIV reported experiencing discrimination in healthcare.

* A Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that the percentage of people who incorrectly believe that HIV can be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass is actually higher now than in 1987, and the percentage of people who incorrectly believe that transmission can occur by touching a toilet seat actually rose between 2006 and 2009.

* People with HIV are subject to prosecution and/or harsher sentencing for conduct that is not criminal. For example, in 2009, Daniel Allen was charged with violating a Michigan bioterrorism statute outlawing the use of harmful biological substances, based on allegations Mr. Allen has HIV and bit his neighbor during a fight. That charge was dismissed after his attorney and HIV advocates, including Lambda Legal, explained to the court that the science behind HIV transmission did not support such a charge.

* Discrimination against people living with HIV as they seek to access elder care occurs throughout the country. Robert Franke, a 75 year old retired university provost and former minister, was abruptly ejected from an assisted living facility in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009 because he has HIV. Dr. Franke and his daughter sued the company operating the facility, alleging violations of the ADA and the federal Fair Housing Act, as well as similar state antidiscrimination laws. This case was settled.

On the way back home, I stopped by Jerry's BBQ Drive In for a quick burger and fries. The restaurant has been around since the 50's and looks just the same as the last time I was there several years ago. The place is like a time capsule back to my childhood. The only change is the original owner passed away in 2003 around the same time as my mother. I even knew the waitress who has been there for almost fifty years.

After a quick stop at CVS, I headed back to spend some time with Dad. We ended up talking for hours and having a great time. We grilled some great Omaha top sirloin steaks and potatoes. Then watched a little television before bedtime. Exhausted now and hae a long day tomorrow so I will close for now.

I hope you have a great Friday. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab