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HIV/AIDS News Digest: August 11, 2011

August 12, 2011

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

New York City Mandates Sex Ed Classes for Public School Kids (From Time)

Sex education in New York City has been done on a voluntary basis in public schools -- which left only 64 percent of the city's middle schools and somewhere between 40-80 percent of high schools teaching any type of sex education curriculum.

Well, this fall, that will not be the case. A new mandate handed down by Mayor Bloomberg states that 100 percent of public school students will receive age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education.

Time reported:

The program is part of a larger city measure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $127 million Young Men's Initiative, announced on Aug. 4, which seeks to improve the lives of young black and Latino men in the city (the initiative will also focus on job training, counseling for criminal offenders, and fatherhood classes).

City officials hope that the sex-ed mandate will reach teens of color, who have disproportionately high rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). "It's obviously something that applies to all boys and all girls," Linda I. Gibbs, the New York City's deputy mayor for health and human services told the New York Times. "But when we look at the biggest disadvantages that kids in our city face, it is blacks and Latinos that are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex."

For many HIV and reproductive health advocates, this mandate is what they have been lobbying to have for years. In a press release, Tracie M. Gardner, state policy director at the Legal Action Center and the founder of WISH-NY, said, "While this new mandate is a start, we hope that it's not the final word from the city. As we all have been saying for years, meaningful, medically-sound health education needs to be a continuous process, and one semester is far from that."

YWCHAC Co-director Kymsha Henry added, "As advocates, we are so happy to hear this -- but it's not really time to celebrate until the rates of HIV and STIs among New York's young people decrease. Chancellor Walcott and Deputy Mayor Gibbs, let's make this happen now."

Yes, let's.

Op-Ed: Manhunt Is No Way to Deal With HIV-Positive Minor (From Edmonton Journal)

On Aug. 8, we reported that a 17-year-old teen living in Edmonton, Canada, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault for having unprotected sex without disclosing her HIV status to her partners. Her arrest came days after the Edmonton Police Service issued a public safety warning that named her.

Some have questioned whether the police should have broadcasted the minor's face on the Internet and in the media. Did the crime warrant those actions? Is it even true that she is HIV positive? And did they receive a court order to release her information?

Edmonton Journal staff writer Paula Simons refers to the police's actions as a "manhunt" that essentially did more harm than good and shows a lack of compassion. Simons wrote:

Treating her like a dangerous criminal on the lam, rather than a sick, desperate and vulnerable minor, may not have been the most useful or appropriate strategy to dealing with a public health problem. Criminalize the disease, and you only add to the stigma and shame that keep people from disclosing their HIV status in the first place.

Simons also stated that the moral that HIV-negative people walk away with is that it's the job of the HIV-positive person to keep them negative when in fact both parties share the responsibility for their own health:

At least three men allegedly chose to have sex -- unprotected sex, it would seem -- with a 17-year-old homeless girl. Their sexual behavior was also irresponsible, perhaps even exploitative. Yet they're the victims whose identities are protected, while she is the accused criminal, pilloried in the virtual public square.

Sadly, it's far easier for the police to launch a successful media manhunt for one sick girl, than it is for our community to deal with the social woes that put her on the street, diseased and desperate, in the first place.

Related Article

Federal Officials Work to End HIV Criminalization Laws (From The Michigan Messenger)

How Can We Close the Race Gap in HIV That's Affecting Black MSM? (From The New York Times)

Just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released news that HIV rates have stabilized for much of the American population, yet rates among young African-American men are increasing alarmingly. In a recent installment of the feature "Room for Debate," The New York Times reached out to nine top HIV experts to get their take on what public health officials should do in order to close this racial gap.

Here's what two of the experts had to say:

  • Kai Wright, the editorial director of, believes that there is no one silver bullet that will annihilate HIV among this population. But Wright believes officials should focus on the fact that too many young black gay men are positive and don't know it. (Seventy-one percent of HIV-positive black gay and bisexual men under the age of 30 didn't know they were infected.) Being successful at shrinking this gap is going to be based on understanding why these men are unaware of their status -- lack of access to health care, homelessness, low income, lack of sex education, etc.
  • Chandra L. Ford, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote that because gay black men have, in a sense, been pushed out from the white gay community and the heterosexual black community, in order to address the needs of black men who have sex with men (MSM), African-American gay leaders need to be empowered and cultivated.

Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

HIV Treatment Outcomes Poorer in Adolescents and Young Adults (From

Want to Be on a Reality Show for MTV? Just Know They Will Not Be Responsible for You Contracting HIV or Any Other STDs (From The Village Voice)

Will Obama Oppose Cuts to HIV/AIDS Programs in Deficit Reduction? (From Washington Blade)

Versus Documentary Tackles HIV, Homophobia, Race and the First Openly Gay Major League Baseball Player in Out. The Glenn Burke Story (From Business Wire)

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

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

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