Monday, December 31, 2012

20 Most talked about HIV/AIDS news stories in 2012

HIV and AIDS made the news A LOT in 2012.  These are the top 20 stories of the year. The news below was met with hope, optimism, speculation, and controversy. I am looking forward to the news to come out in 2013! Be sure to follow Rise Up To HIV on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news in 2013!  In no particular order, click on the story to read more:

2) The FDA approves OraQuick, an in home Oral Swab 20 minute HIV test kit

3) The International AIDS conference is held in Washington, D.C. The travel ban on people living with HIV and AIDS entering the United States was lifted allowing this conference to be held in the US for the first time since 1990.

8) Spencer Cox, AIDS Activist, Dies at 44 

9) The documentary Deep South is released "deepsouth' is a documentary about the new American South, and the people who inhabit its most quiet corners. Beneath layers of history, poverty and now soaring HIV infections, four Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive".

10) Seven HIV/AIDS activists are arrested following a naked protest in speaker Boehner's office protesting possible cut's to HIV/AIDS funding 

11) Stribild a once daily HIV medication is approved


20) HIV Criminalization takes center stage thanks to the Sero Project  "Sero is particularly focused on ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for non-disclosure of their HIV status, potential or perceived HIV exposure or HIV transmission".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A World AIDS Day Message from Butch McKay

World AIDS Day – December 1, 2012

As World AIDS Day approached this week and people kept asking if I had penned my World AIDS Day Message, I could only shake my head in the negative. I have been sending out my thoughts on this particular day for over 20 years, but suddenly I had trouble coming up with what I felt was an appropriate message. The year 2012 has been a mixed bag of news leaving me pondering whether my message should only focus on the many positives things that have occurred over the past 12 months, or should it be an alarm sounding message of what has not happened and what should be happening. In the mist of trying to get ready for several events and presentations, I drove out to Destin, Florida yesterday where OASIS has a tree in the Festival of Trees Charity Competition to do some fluffing around our tree after a rain storm. I'm standing beside our tree in the picture above. This year our theme was World AIDS Day. We decorated with red ribbons and white snowflakes and each were tagged with the name of a local person or a person with local contacts who had died from the complication of AIDS. We topped the tree with a beautiful Red Ribbon and placed three candles in front with messages of why we light candles on World AIDS Day. One reads” We light candles in remembrance of those we have lost to AIDS”, another reads “We light candles in support of those we love and serve” and the last one reads “We light candles as we envision a World Without AIDS”. I happened to be the only one in the park as I went about the task of fluffing the tree. I could not help reading the names on the ribbons and snowflakes, I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotions. Having been in this field for 25 years I have known four times as many people who have passed as what we had represented on our tree. Still there are 204 names representing 204 people who were loved by many, mourned by many, and their lives celebrated by an entire world for their sacrifices. One of the first names I saw on a red ribbon was Roy. Roy had been a friend of forty years who was the first known AIDS death to occur in Panama City. He was a nurse’s aid in a nursing home making a difference in the lives of others. I stopped and thought of all those I have lost and was overwhelmed at how many were actually caregivers. A snowflake carried the name of Sharon who worked for me. She was a wonderful loving Mom, hard working employee, and a friend to everyone. Now her children have to grow up without their mother to guide them and comfort them. She was the Jewelry Queen ,the girl loved her bling! Next ornament celebrated the life of Terry, the most recent friend I have lost. Terry was a quiet man, preferred to live in the country and stay to himself. When I first met him he was the sole caregiver for his ailing mother and like most of our friends was too busy caring for someone else and not caring for himself. After his mother passed a lot of him died with her. He was extremely independent and never asked for much. I mourn his passing as it leaves another hole in my heart, but I celebrate that he is reunited with his Mom. I looked down on the ground and saw the name of Tim on red ribbon that had fallen from the tree. I picked it up and placed it back on the tree. Tim was someone I actually never got to meet, but someone I have come to admire. Tim was an OASIS client before I became the Director 17 years ago, who was a trailblazer of sorts. He was one of the first HIV+ people to give a television interview in the local media. I still watch that video cliff and think about the courage that took in the early 90’s in the rural panhandle of Florida. I wish I could share the lives of all 204 names we celebrate on our tree, but that is not feasible. The message would be similar in that each was a contributing member of society, giving more than they ever received. They were the front runners, the soldiers on the battlefield of AIDS, but in our hearts they were our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, life partners, husbands, wives, neighbors, colleagues, and most importantly they were our fiends. On the Quilt panel I made for Johnny, my roommate I lost over 20 years ago is my favorite saying –“Friends are a Feeling of Forever in the Heart….Johnny was Our Friend”. All the snowflakes and red ribbons represent our friends and our hearts.
There will be many World AIDS Day messages shared around the globe today and many will be filled with lots of data and exciting news. There are wonderful developments in HIV treatment and prevention to report. You will hear a lot about getting us to Zero...Zero new HIV infections, zero new AIDS diagnoses, zero discrimination, and zero deaths especially. It is a challenge but I remain optimistic, after viewing the names on the red ribbons and snowflakes. I pray there will never have to be another name on our Holiday Tree. My heart is filled so with many hopes and dreams of those who were denied the opportunity to see those dream come true. On this World AIDS Day, may your message be the same as mine....that we make the dream of our fallen soldiers a reality.... A World Without AIDS, as we celebrate, mourn, and honor their heroic lives while supporting each other and those we love who still faces so many challenges. END AIDS NOW!
Yours in the Fight,
Butch McKay

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Housing Works Protest in NYC 11/29/2012


Media Contact:
Sunny Bjerk

Photos of event:

New York, NY November 29 2012—Today AIDS activists and advocates from Housing Works are making their feelings about the current state of HIV/AIDS very clear, taking over Manhattan’s City Hall Park and protesting New York City’s and the country’s lack of progress in ending the AIDS epidemic.

AIDS activists from Housing Works have just climbed two flagpoles in the park and unfurled a thirty-five foot banner that reads, “Housing is Healthcare: House People Living with HIV/AIDS.” The banner is being unfurled on between the two flagpoles at the southern end of City Hall Park at the corner of Broadway and Park Row. 

Two activists are staying perched on top of the flagpoles, while several have chained themselves to flagpoles’ base chanting, “Housing is healthcare, house people with AIDS!” Their vocal strength reflects the anger at the lack of resources and policy interventions that prioritize housing as a key intervention in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

Stable housing has been shown to be the strongest structural intervention available to help people living with HIV/AIDS better adhere to their care and treatments, and lower the risk of exposing others to the disease.  Put simply, the AIDS pandemic cannot be ended without addressing homelessness and housing instability among people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions.

Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, New York City’s homeless population has reached its all-time high, with the number of homeless sleeping in shelters doubling over the last decade. Bloomberg has also reduced the assistance people living with HIV/AIDS receive to pay brokers’ fees to secure housing, as well as repeatedly blocking NYS legislator’s attempts to cap the rents of people living with HIV/AIDS at 30% of their legal income.  Most recently, Bloomberg’s proposed city budget plan will change the eligibility requirements under the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA)—including reduced levels of financial assistance and mandatory work requirements—and may also feature cuts to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and their HIV bureau.

The civil disobedience comes two days before World AIDS Day, a global day of remembrance of those lost to the disease. 

Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NAKED AIDS ACTIVISTS TAKE OVER Speaker Boehner's Washington, DC Office

Recording of a protest earlier. NAKED AIDS ACTIVISTS TAKE OVER Speaker Boehner's Washington, DC Office. 3 females were arrested. Organized by ACTUPNY, HEALTHGAP, VOCALNYC, Queerocracy and many others! Hundreds of protesters converged on the Hill to protest possible cuts to AIDS Funds if the fiscal cliff and sequestration cuts happen.

  Video streaming by Ustream AP News Article about protest 

Washington Post Article about Protest

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poem Submission #25 "Angies Ballad"

Angie's Ballad

Her father died one thousand times
from rage that almost killed
before he checked the chambered round
and tilted what he willed:

"Hush, little darling, don't you cry.
Fiddle dum, fiddle dee.
Hush your sweet little angel eyes
and rock yourself to sleep."

Such irony, he thought, in June
the sun would set blood red,
the label on his Bud be red,
and there would soon be wet

red drops of death as in the bag
inside a post-op room
where Jennie met a ghost one night
that swilled inside her womb.

A wise man once said grief was truth,
whatever the offense,
but first denial, then comes spleen,
and then self-evidence.

I'd like to think that truth meant peace
her last September night;
I'd like to think she had a dream
of one bright candlelight

that she and Angie soon would share,
Fiddle dum, fiddle dee.
Jennie, close your tired eyes
and rock yourself to sleep.

October came with Angie's hour
when fading shadows start
to whisper prayers she could not hear,
though heartfelt, heartfelt, heart.......

"It stopped," the doctor said who felt
no pulse left in the blood
and wondered if there was a soul,
much less if there was God.

There was, however, one more soul,
named Niki, five years old,
when Angie died and falling leaves
would better have been snow

to seem like flakes on Niki's cheeks
that had been melted there
while others whiten one more plot
of cubic brown despair.


It has been many years since then,
but in these words still five
sad legacies spell H.I.V.:
three dead, a bag, and one alive.

RiseUpToHIV Daily News Digest