Originally posted on TIME:

The 2014 midterms have been called the “Seinfeld election” and the “meh midterms” — because they’re supposedly about nothing and nobody cares. But while congressional races have failed to capture voters’ imaginations, the campaigns for governor may have a major effect on at least one group of Americans.

Depending on who wins next Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans could get access to health insurance under the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act.

When the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional in 2012, many Republican governors and legislators opted out. Today, 27 states and D.C. have accepted the federal money, including a handful led by Republicans, but 21 states are not currently making an effort to do so.

That could change after next week’s elections. There are more than a dozen gubernatorial races considered toss-ups going into the final days of the campaign, and in at least…

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How Meditation May Help People With HIV

Posted: October 30, 2014 by thepozlife in Uncategorized

Originally posted on TIME:

From the time a person is diagnosed with any illness, the focus of their healthcare often shifts to managing sickness rather than promoting wellbeing. But new research shows that a non-pharmacological intervention could help play a role in HIV patient’s mental and physical health. Practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), a 20-minute twice-a-day mindfulness regimen, may help people with HIV feel better, a small new study finds.

The project’s research, which is being submitted to scientific journals but is not yet published, was done with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit that funds research on stress reduction methods, including TM, for at-risk populations. In the 39 HIV patients who completed the study, researchers measured health factors like stress levels, wellbeing (using an established spiritual wellbeing scale), levels of psychological distress and physical symptoms related to HIV, like fatigue. They then taught TM to the patients…

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At the beginning of the year I did something that my parents continued to oppose and forbid me to do. Well during Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend after spending some time to reflect on the New Year in my hometown of Hampton, Virginia I drove back up to Maryland and did it. No I didn’t partake in an orgy, decide to binge on a buffet or go on a shopping spree. Instead I picked up a bundle of joy, my puppy I later named Cocoa.

Cocoa

Cocoa

You see in the beginning of the year I was alone, down in the dumps and struggling with work. I can candidly say that at the same time I began to realize that it was harder to get up in the morning or even feel motivated to faithfully go to the gym. All of this began to take a toll on me caring about my adherence. So I knew something had to be done to address this issue. There are definitely plenty of reasons my little Miniature Pincher has helped me deal with my PTSD and also keep my life interesting.

Every morning I wake up to being barked or talked at, nudged, or on rare occasions a foul smell. The majority of the time I am working simply by her moving or nudging me and I immediately know it is time to wake up and give her a good walk. Our morning 1-3 mile walk does not necessarily only help her. By walking with her in the morning I have the ability to be physically active, have some time without my iPhone to critically think and most importantly get out of bed regardless of how I feel and be productive. Cocoa also plays a role in me taking my medication. Around 8pm on most nights I feed her and afterwards she sits at the edge of the kitchen staring at me. The moment I give her eye contact she immediately looks towards the fridge. You see I keep some of her dog treats on top of the microwave next to my pill bottles. On top of that surprisingly when I have horrible nightmares she wakes me up.  Cocoa also is the perfect cuddle buddy and keeps me warm on cold nights. This has been a perfect partnership to keep me adherent and happy. Little does she know how big of a role she plays in my life.1517595_10152348101883522_4986122712107354650_n

Pets can be a great responsibility and come with additional expenses but nothing can replace the love coming from them. Cocoa brings tremendous joy into my life. Her silly expressions and creepy stalker ways always keeps a smile on my face. Many of my friends and colleagues I work and advocate alongside constantly comment or mention my dog and how I am always talking about her via social media. To be honest she definitely works my nerves when she pees or poops in the house of gets carsick and throw up in the car; however, at the end of the day when we lock eyes or I walk into the door after a ten hour day or week away at a conference she greets me with unconditional love. This love alongside the love of my family and friends is what keeps me going on those very hard days.

ybgli

The Organizing Committee of the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) are pleased to welcome distinguished members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the YBGLI October Google Policy Hangout on Air scheduled for Thursday, October 30th at 7pm EDT.

REGISTER HERE

Dr. Eugene McCary, Mr. Lamont Scales and Dr. Dawn Smith, MD are the panelists chosen for this discussion. These individuals are committed to engaging with young black gay, bisexual and same gender loving individuals about what the CDC does and can do for our community. Register and join us. Don’t miss your chance to ask CDC your compelling question and get answers.  This is a perfect opportunity to be engaged and be an advocate for the community so share this very exciting event and let’s make it a great turn out!  Besides, it’s not like you have an opportunity to engage members of the CDC about young black gay, bisexual and SGL folks.

The 2014 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) Exit Disclaimer earlier this month was the largest HIV/AIDS-related gathering in the nation. During the conference, the AIDS.gov team provided daily social media coverage Exit Disclaimer, policy updates, and technical assistance to conference participants in our social media lab.

Today, we bring you personal perspectives of the conference from Guy Anthony, Kahlib Barton, and Patrick Ingram: three bloggers from AIDS.gov’s Black Voices Blog, a bimonthly blog series written by black, gay millennials affected by HIV/AIDS. Each is a community leader is his own right, and all of them are sharing their experiences of living with HIV by using new media to amplify their voices and touch the lives of those like them.

Guy Anthony

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…we are moving in the right direction if we continue to advocate positioning ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly infect and affect us.”

For a USCA first-timer like me, being amongst so many passionate people, both infected and affected, was an indescribable feeling that I’ll never forget. USCA left me reeling with excitement to return to DC to “do the work.”I was incredibly inspired to hold everyone, including myself, accountable in the fight to eradicate this disease. Not just people providing direct services to clients, but agencies as a whole, executive directors, and policy-makers.

One of my favorite moments was the workshop titled “Black Gay Men: Where Are We Now? Where Do We Need to Be?” The references to black gay revolutionaries like Audre Lorde Exit Disclaimer, Essex Hemphill Exit Disclaimer, Marlon Riggs Exit Disclaimer were inspiring. I think, as a community, we are moving in the right direction if we continue to position ourselves at the table when it comes to issues that directly affect us. And what exactly does being represented at the “table” look like? A great example is Douglas Brooks, the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; President Obama appointed him to that position earlier this year. Brooks is an HIV/AIDS activist, and a gay black man who is living with HIV. He leads the Administration’s work to reduce new HIV infections, improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, and eliminate HIV health disparities in the United States.

Overall, USCA 2014 was everything I thought it’d be. The dialogue at USCA was sincere and shared a common theme that black gay men need to start taking care of themselves, for themselves.

Kahlib Barton

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I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to do so for themselves, because so many people advocated for me when I didn’t think I could.”

USCA Exit Disclaimer, NMAC Exit Disclaimer, PrEP, PEP. Alphabet soup anyone? All of these acronyms were foreign to me about a month ago. But now I not only know what they mean, but I am inspired to learn more about HIV and how I can make a difference. Because of NMAC’s Youth Scholar program Exit Disclaimer, I was able to attend USCA for the first time this year, and it has changed my life.

Hearing personal experiences of others living with HIV, and meeting all the NMAC Youth Scholars with so many inspiring backgrounds, were my highlight moments of USCA. Meeting these inspiring individuals who were willing to help me navigate this unfamiliar world helped me to take advantage of this opportunity.

One story that particularly resonated with me was Lawrence Stallworth; he is young, the same age as I am, and has been living with the virus for as long as I have. But until I met him, the difference between us was that he did not allow his status to define him. Lawrence has already traveled across the country speaking about HIV awareness, and now serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

At USCA, I became inspired to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves, because so many of the people I met advocated for me when I didn’t think I could. Before USCA I was a shy, angst-ridden, 23-year-old man living with HIV. But I turned my shyness into sufficiency and my angst into assurance. Now I feel that I am empowered and ready to make a difference in my own community. I have now joined multiple councils and organizations to be sure that my voice is heard. Most important, I use my voice as my tool to combat stigma and raise awareness for all those suffering with, or because of, this disease.

Patrick Ingram

Patrick Ingram“As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up…”

I was thrilled to return to USCA this year as a member of both the NMAC Youth Scholars and the USCA Steering Committee. For me, USCA is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who are dedicated to addressing HIV.

One highlight from my time at USCA was having the opportunity to visit the University of California at San Diego’s Center for AIDS Research (CEFAR) Exit Disclaimer with my fellow NMAC Youth Scholars. I was able to learn more about the amazing work being done in the field of HIV medications and vaccines research. Visiting CEFAR has encouraged me to continue to advocate for young, gay men of color to have access to biomedical research opportunities.

As I continue to grow, I realize the impact of change that takes place when I speak up and set my mind to the task at hand. USCA has shown me that sharing my experiences and using my voice are important, and I continue to do so on my personal blog and in my work at the Virginia Department of Health. USCA 2015 will be held in Washington DC, and I am interested in how government agencies and organizations that serve those affected by HIV will employ, listen, give opportunities to lead, and implement the ideas/strategies of youth.

Did you go to USCA 2014? Share your experience in the comments below. Read more from our Black Voices bloggers here.

- See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/10/usca-2014-reflections-of-3-black-voices-bloggers.html#sthash.gRSS3cMJ.dpuf

Congratulations to the grant awardees that will be able to do additional work to improve the barriers and disparities communities in the south face when it comes to HIV&AIDS.  More information can be found below in the official press release.


Positive Action Southern Initiative Commitment Continues with New Grants Awarded to Seven Organizations, Bringing Total Funding for Grassroots Projects to More than 2.8 Million to Date

 

Research Triangle Park, NC – October 20, 2014 – ViiV Healthcare today announced seven Positive Action Southern Initiative grant awardees in Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi for programs focused on reducing disparities in HIV/AIDS linkages to care and treatment among at-risk populations in their communities.  Recipients will receive up to $50,000 per year for a provisional commitment over the next two years to support the following programs:

  • Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their Linkage to Treatment program and enhance the reach and depth of their services to HIV positive individuals.
  • Brotherhood, Inc., located in New Orleans, LA, will expand their work to address the needs of HIV positive African American transgender persons and men who have sex with men (MSM) who are recently released from prison.
  • Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge, located in Baton Rouge, LA, will enhance their work to address gaps in services for HIV positive individuals recently released from prison.
  • Grace House, Inc., located in Jackson, MS, will expand its supportive services to homeless Mississippians living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS, will fill gaps in their current services by expanding HIV prevention and research programs for African American MSM to include case management.
  • SisterLove, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their “Everyone Has A Story” (EHAS) program through a series of trainings/webinars to build the capacity and skills of peer advocates, staff, and volunteers.
  • Someone Cares Inc. of Atlanta, located in Atlanta, GA, will improve their Transforming, Renewing and Unifying Transgender Health Project (TRUTH) intervention to support transgender women of color.

Since its launch in 2010, the Positive Action Southern Initiative has helped to enable effective interventions and quality services to fight HIV in Southern states.  In addition to receiving funding, grantees also become part of the Southern Initiative Network, a resource that supports grantees and grantee finalists through networking activities, including opportunities to share lessons learned with one another and with other community experts. This collaborative network has now grown to include 32 organizations working together to share effective strategies for addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis in the South.

“The Positive Action Southern Initiative is a direct reflection of our commitment to working together with the community to improve outcomes for those populations disproportionately affected by HIV, and we continue to be impressed by the innovative ideas and strong results put forth by the Network,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare.  “With round six of the program, we’re proud to continue funding effective community-based initiatives, which are essential to meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and reducing HIV-related disparities in the Southern United States.”

Designed to address the gaps in care and treatment documented through the Gardner Cascade[i], the Positive Action Southern Initiative reflects the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy by directing resources to areas and populations that have the greatest need. The Southern United States is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, representing 45 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses.[ii]

“The Southern AIDS Coalition and the Positive Action Southern Initiative were born of the same purpose – to effectively address the disparate impact of HIV on the Southern United States,” said Rainey Campbell, Executive Director of the Southern AIDS Coalition. “We’ve seen how the Southern Initiative supports on-the-ground interventions and collaboration to influence meaningful change across communities in our region.  Expansion of the program helps achieve our shared goals by providing further access to high-quality prevention, treatment and care services in order to reduce new infections and improve quality of life for people living with HIV in the South.”

With particular focus on reducing disparities among African-American and Latino populations, the Positive Action Southern Initiative currently operates in 10 Southern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, representing 68 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses in 2011, with new infection rates highest among African-American adults and adolescents. [iii]

These health disparities are particularly prevalent in the Southern U.S. In Georgia, 55 percent of new HIV diagnoses were among African Americans in 2012, despite comprising only 31 percent of the population in the state.[iv],[v]  In Louisiana, 69 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 74 percent of newly diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans in 2013, though African Americans make up only 32 percent of Louisiana’s overall population.[vi]  In Mississippi, where the highest rate of HIV infections were among African Americans and Hispanics (37 and 13 per 100,000 persons, respectively), African Americans accounted for 75 percent of newly reported HIV infections in 2012, and their rate of infection was six times higher than the rate among Whites.[vii]

About ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Program The Southern Initiative is part of ViiV Healthcare’s broader Positive Action program that has empowered community organizations in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia over the past 22 years. As a company focused solely on HIV/AIDS, ViiV Healthcare is committed to building on the success of the global program with efforts to support projects in the United States that address areas of greatest need.

When Positive Action was created in 1992 it was the first pharmaceutical company program of its kind to support communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The program targets its funds towards community-focused projects that reach those most affected by HIV, particularly in marginalized or vulnerable populations. These include youth, women and girls, sex workers, injection drug users, MSM, the incarcerated, transgender individuals and gay men. Positive Action works to build capacity in these communities to enable them to tackle stigma and discrimination, to test innovations in education, care and treatment, and to deliver greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.

For more information about Positive Action, please visit: http://www.viivhealthcare.com/community-partnerships/positive-action/about.aspx

 

About ViiV Healthcare  

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

[i] Gardner EM, McLees, MP, Steiner JF, del Reio, C.  The Spectrum of Engagement in HIV Care and its Relevance to Test-and-Treat Strategies for Prevention of HIV Infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2011; 52 (6): 793-800. 

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV and AIDS in the United States by Geographic Distribution. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/geographic.htm.  Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance by Race/Ethnicity (through 2011). http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/statistics_surveillance_raceEthnicity.pdf. Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iv] The Georgia Department of Public Health.  Fact Sheet: HIV Surveillance, Georgia, 2012. http://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/HIV_EPI_Fact_Sheet_Surveillance_2012.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[v] United States Census Bureau.  State & County Quick Facts. Georgia. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13000.html.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vi] Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, STD/HIV Program (SHP). Louisiana HIV/AIDS Surveillance Quarterly Report, June 30, 2014. http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/oph/HIVSTD/hiv-aids/2014/Second_Quarter2014.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vii] Mississippi State Department of Health. HIV Disease 2012 Fact Sheet.  http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/5070.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

U.S. Media Inquiries Marc Meachem (919) 483-8756

Originally posted on TIME:

The alleged murder of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine has sparked outrage in the Philippines, with some calling into question the U.S. military’s presence in the country.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the U.S. military is allowed to conduct drills in the Philippines. The accord also gives the Philippines the power to prosecute American service members if they fall foul of the law, but they can remain in U.S. custody until the end of judicial proceedings, the Associated Press reports.

Several small protests took place in the country’s capital, Manila, and the city of Olongapo, where the alleged murder took place, and in the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay free port Saturday, where the suspect Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, is being kept on the U.S.S. Peleliu. He has been summoned by the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office to attend a hearing Tuesday.

Protesters have…

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Originally posted on TIME:

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

A productive week depends largely on what you focus on every working day and how much time you allocate to activities that take up your time (i.e. busy work). Working harder does not necessarily mean you are being productive. There will always be a better way to complete that task. Find it, work smarter and get more done in your working week.

These are a few things can do to have an insanely productive week this and every other week.

1. Stop planning, start doing.

It’s okay to make time to plan what needs to be done in the week or month but when you get back to the planning table often, you lose precious productive hours.

So instead of plan, just do it. The option to work on a task in the future instead of now seem comfortable but not prudent. While…

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Check out our last show where we discuss grieving and HIV.

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Alexandria Health Department – Photo by Todd Franson

Rainbow Tuesdays is a clinic that I started to volunteer at when I initially started working in HIV.  This clinic is every Tuesday between 5:00pm-6:30pm and offers screenings for STIs (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis) and rapid/confirmatory testing for HIV. Hepatitis B vaccinations are also available as well. This clinic is run by gay, bisexual, queer, same gender-loving men and their allies.  I also find it amazing that the staff can also see individuals of the Trans experience!  Generally this clinic is not like others in the area (including some in DC that can get pretty crazy with line) and although it may not be directly off the metro you can navigate it by easily taking a bus, which will drop you just feet away from the Alexandria Health Department (7A or 7F from Pentagon Metro Station).

Debby Dimon, who is Nurse Supervisor at the Alexandria Health Department, oversees the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic and provided us with some history. “Rainbow Tuesdays clinic started in July 2009 because of the Syphilis outbreak in Northern Virginia and the absence of stigma-free health care to meet the needs Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Same Gender Loving Men. It started as a screening clinic the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at Alexandria Health Department working in collaboration with the HIV prevention nonprofit organizations (Inova Juniper Program, K.I. Services, Inc. and NOVAM) with other organization serving on the Advisory Committee,” says Dimon.  Her personal goal is to provide syphilis testing and treatment for every gay/bi/queer/sgl man and Trans woman to stop the spread of the curable bacterial infection.  A special exclusive that we were able to gain was that Debby plans on providing Hep A/B/C testing in the new year!

The Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic Program is a partnership that fully engages the community to foster trust and awareness of services among of men having sex with men to encourage those at risk for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infections to seek services and refer others potentially exposed for services. If you are ever free, in the need for screening/treatment or want to know more about the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic then stop by the Alexandria Health Department during clinic hours.