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"Silence = $" | "Living Well With HIV" On WOR Radio
Gay Boy Scouts
The honor is given by Exponents Arrive, a program that offers intensive, in-depth training in HIV/AIDS, to its graduates who have excelled in the areas of education, outreach, and advocacy. The award, which was presented in a ceremony on July 22, is named for the founder and former Executive Director of Musica Against AIDS. Musica seeks to empower and educate individuals through the arts and music, and provides education, support, and case management to HIV-positive individuals in Brooklyn.
Amid national debate over the excessive use of force in United States law enforcement, Amnesty International released a report in June documenting an increasing use of high-tech brutality in this country's criminal justice system. The report includes recent allegations of torture and ill treatment with electro-shock weapons in local jails and in state and federal prison facilities. Among its disturbing revelations is reported evidence of the use of stun belts on HIV-positive prisoners and prisoners diagnosed with AIDS in the Old Parish Prison in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The stun belt -- one of a growing array of electro-shock weapons used by police and prison agencies across the U.S. -- is reportedly being used on inmates from the segregated HIV/AIDS unit of the Old Parish Prison (OPP-D-1) during transport to and from medical facilities. The only other prisoners required to wear the stun belt are high-security prisoners. HIV-positive inmates, however, must wear the stun belt regardless of their security classifications, a practice that the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission calls "both perilous and discriminatory." The IGLHRC points out that pretrial, medium-, and minimum-security prisoners are effectively being forced to wear the stun belts solely because of their HIV-positive status. The belt consequently acts as a visible status marker that encroaches upon HIV-positive inmates' right to confidentiality and singles them out for further discrimination or abuse.
Health experts have indicated that there is medical evidence suggesting that electro-shock devices may produce harmful or even fatal effects, particularly in the case of persons suffering from heart disease. The stun belt is known to cause immediate muscle immobilization, excruciating pain, and loss of control of bodily functions. Stun belts have allegedly been activated on at least two occasions against OPP-D-1 prisoners, including against one individual held in a hospital holding cell. In addition, inmates who are HIV-positive are reportedly required to sign a waiver consenting to be fitted with a stun belt or risk being denied transportation to the Clinic at Charity Hospital to receive life-sustaining treatment. According to the IGLHRC, "This coercive double bind subjects HIV-positive prisoners to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment: It not only puts the lives of already vulnerable inmates in greater jeopardy, but punitively undermines their right to access to care and treatment. It is therefore evident that the arbitrary use of stun belts on prisoners with HIV/AIDS constitutes a form of torture under internationally recognized standards."
IGLHRC and Amnesty International have issued a call for letters to Sheriff Charles Foti of the New Orleans Parish Prison System expressing deep concern over the use of stun belts on OPP-D-1 prisoners and asking for an immediate halt to this practice as a first step toward eliminating the use of stun belts from New Orleans Prison Parish overall. In a statement issued by the IGLHRC, the two organizations state:
Letters protesting the use of stun belts may be sent to Sheriff Charles C. Foti, New Orleans Parish Prison System, 2800 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70119.
AIDS Action's analysis of the fifteen largest pharmaceutical companies' annual reports found marketing, advertising, and administrative spending three times more than R&D spending. Direct consumer advertising specifically is increasing at a rate three times more than R&D spending.
AIDS Action's report also shows the focus on advertising is occurring as the pharmaceutical industry enjoys unmatched profits, overshadowing all other industries in three leading profit indicators. Even worse, taxpayers are footing the bill for programs and tax credits that pay for R&D as well as the drugs themselves and then get hit with prescription bills that are among the highest n the world. AIDS drugs cost individuals as much as $15,000 per year, about the cost of a GM Saturn.
"Imagine if General Motors could get the American taxpayer to heavily subsidize its research and development, fund government programs that purchase half of its cars, and then get many of those same taxpayers to buy a new car each and every year. Good work if you can get it, right? Well, the American pharmaceutical industry's got it," says AIDS Action Executive Director David Zingale.
AIDS Action's plan urges the pharmaceutical industry to lower prices voluntarily, limit the growth of its marketing budgets to the levels of R&D spending growth, and allow for the development of generic versions of AIDS drugs in the developing world. AIDS Action also urged the U.S. government to allow for the re-importation of AIDS drugs.
The full text of "Silence = $" and the statement by Zingale are available on-line at www.aidsaction.org.
The show, which airs Sunday nights from 11:00 p.m. until midnight on WOR radio 710, features a different topic each week, and detailed discussions on aspects of HIV/AIDS treatment by a variety of experts.
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Two leaders of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- both parents of former scouts -- released statements praising the decision.
"I am hopeful that the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision encourages the Boy Scouts of America to halt its discriminatory policies nationwide and to welcome all of our children and family members into its ranks," said Melina Waldo, PFLAG's New Jersey's based Regional Director for New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. "As a parent of a gay son who was a Scout, I applaud this ruling by my state's highest court. I look forward to the day that the Scouts put aside a policy that is detrimental to all youth and society as a whole."
PFLAG National Executive Director Kristen Kingdom said, "This is a victory for fairness. We laud the efforts of Eagle Scout James Dale and his courage to stand tall for those values he learned in Scouting -- honesty, courtesy, and fairness. The Boy Scouts of America says it prides itself on teaching youth the value of honesty, but what happens when a teen identifies himself as gay? He opens himself up to discrimination because he is honest about his sexual orientation. PFLAG calls on the Boy Scouts to take today's message of inclusion to heart and to welcome our children and loved ones for who they are."
PFLAG, which filed an amicus brief in the New Jersey case, has a written public policy urging the Boy Scouts to change its stance. It encourages its members in more than 425 chapters to withhold contributions to the Boy Scouts until the organization changes its policy.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.