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HIV/AIDS News Digest: July 21, 2011

July 21, 2011

Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:

Study: After 30 Years, Americans Still Lack HIV Understanding (From The Michigan Messenger)

After three decades of AIDS, do Americans have a good understanding of the disease? Not as strong as they should, says a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Researchers found that even though AIDS has been on the radar since 1981, many people's knowledge about the disease is poor. The Michigan Messenger reported:

Of the respondents in the study, 25 percent thought one could get HIV by sharing a drinking glass with someone with HIV, 45 percent say they'd be uncomfortable having their food prepared by someone who is HIV positive, 36 percent with having an HIV-positive roommate, 29 percent having their child in a classroom with an HIV-positive teacher, and 18 percent working with someone with HIV.

In addition, the report found that the number of people getting tested for the virus has stayed relatively stable since the late 90s.

The study also found that African Americans share the most concern about the epidemic, with whites sharing the least. Blacks were much more likely to believe HIV was a major public health issue.

As for getting information about HIV, the vast majority of respondents (76 percent) reported they got their information from the media such as television and radio.

Of course this news is disheartening to HIV/AIDS advocates. Laurel Sprague, of the Global Network of People Living with HIV, North America, told the Messenger, "Thirty years into a global pandemic, it is seriously disheartening to hear the level of misinformation about HIV expressed by people in the U.S. That significant portions of the population are afraid of sharing a drinking glass with an HIV-infected person, eating a meal prepared by someone with HIV, or having their children taught by an HIV-positive teacher, despite the fact that HIV is not transmitted in any of those ways, indicates the need for vastly expanded public education campaigns."

Dramatic Changes in Store for San Fran HIV Prevention (From The Bay Area Reporter)

Starting on Sept. 1, San Francisco will see some serious changes with how its city health department will allocate 7 million dollars in HIV/AIDS funding. While the specifics have yet to be announced, the health department has shared some of its new goals, which include becoming the first city to eliminate new HIV infections.

Lofty goal, no doubt, but the city plans on making this happen by focusing more on viral loads in the community and being more successful in linking the newly diagnosed to care.

Not all of the news is good: Some agencies will see a drop in funding. And the city will have a more critical eye on its local agencies to ensure that they are successfully achieving what they are contracted to do.

According to The Bay Area Reporter, not everyone is happy with these changes:

One of the most vocal agencies critiquing the changes has been the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center. It contends that the needs of the city's API community are "being completely overlooked" as greater attention is being given to gay and bisexual men of other ethnicities, injection drug users, and transgender women.

"This is just bad public health policy," stated Mike Rabanal, the center's board chair. "The choices San Francisco makes have the power to shift national HIV policy. If we fail to address the public health needs of the significant API population locally, we're sending a message that the impact of the epidemic in our communities doesn't matter."

New England LGBT Advocacy Group Files Lawsuit to Save Group Home for People Living With HIV/AIDS (From the Union Leader)

Last month the Boston-based group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit against the city of Gilsum, New Hampshire for trying to seize and close down the Cleve Jones Wellness House, a local group home for people living with HIV/AIDS and/or Hep C.

City officials claim that they have the right to seize the 1.2 acres of property because the nonprofit did not file for its nonprofit tax-exempt status in 2007. But GLAD isn't buying that; it believes that the city is unfairly discriminating against the group home because the home's inhabitants are HIV positive. To save the home, GLAD has filed a temporary restraining order against the property seizure, a preliminary and permanent injunction, as well as a petition for damages and attorney's fees against the town and involved town officials.

The Union Leader reported the lawsuit also states that other nonprofits that did not file for the same nonprofit status numerous times are not being closed down:

"From 2004 to present, the Gilsum Veterans Association/American Legion filed applications only twice," the lawsuit says.

Other nonprofits are used as examples in the lawsuit.

"The town of Gilsum granted a property tax exemption to the Gilsum Congregational Church in every year from 2005 to 2010 despite the Church's failure to file the required applications in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and filing late in 2006 and 2010."

The Cleve Jones House is being discriminated against, Klein said Wednesday. "The town has violated the Equal Protection Rights, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Fair Housing Act by treating them differently with respect to tax exemptions," he said.

Last week, city officials stopped the process of trying to close the Cleve Jones Wellness House down and are waiting for the judge to make a ruling on the lawsuit before proceeding.

Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

IAS: HIV Prevention Studies Spark Robust Debate (From Medpage Today)

Virginia Teens Fight Local AIDS Epidemic With a Video Camera (From, NBC affiliate)

Florida Spent $2 Million on Abstinence-Only Programs Short on Health Info (From The American Independent)

How PrEP May Impact the African-American Community (From The Root)

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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