News & Notes
Schmitz Conviction Is "Clear Rejection Of Victim-Blaming"
Advocacy Initiatives For African-Americans Receive Funding
Top Gay Doctor Warns Against "Party Drugs"
On August 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing a fifty percent drop in the rate of decline of AIDS deaths. According to the CDC, from 1997 to 1998, AIDS deaths dropped by twenty percent, less than half of the 42 percent drop from 1996 to 1997. This represents the lowest decline in AIDS deaths since the beginning of the protease drug era.
The figures, according to AIDS Action, confirm the weaknesses of current AIDS treatments as well as the need for better healthcare access. "Our worst fears have become a tragic reality," says Steven Fisher, the organization's Director of Communications. "For the first time, our concerns about current AIDS treatments are confirmed by a leading epidemic indicator. AIDS drugs don't work for everyone and aren't a cure for anyone."
West And East Meet In The Bronx
In a rare collaboration between biomedical and traditional healthcare practitioners, a new community-based facility offering both conventional and alternative therapies is set to open September 30 in the Bronx.
The Ogden Family Medical and Dental Center is a joint effort of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and the Woodycrest Wellness Center, a subsidiary of Highbridge Woodycrest Center, a residential healthcare facility for men, women, and children with AIDS. "The addition of the Ogden Family Medical and Dental Center represents yet another milestone in our efforts to reach out and bring physicians and medical services directly into the community," says Miguel A. Fuentes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bronx-Lebanon.
Ogden will provide adult medicine, social services, pre- and postnatal care, child healthcare, nutrition and diet supervision, women's healthcare, immunization, dermatology, podiatry, HIV testing and counseling, and school and camp physicals.
In addition, the center will be the first clinic in the Bronx to provide complementary medicine in an ambulatory care setting. Supervised by the Woodycrest Wellness Center, the complementary medicine program will involve holistic treatment, teaching of a balanced lifestyle, exercise, rest and proper diet, encouragement of individuals to participate in the healing process, and management of the negative side effects of standard medications.
"If the last major wave in the delivery of U.S. healthcare was the dramatic rise in ambulatory care across the country," says Ogden spokesman Mark Taylor, "the next wave is certain to include complementary therapies. In recent years, the use of complementary medicine has skyrocketed at an unprecedented rate. This is why we believe that the Ogden Center will soon serve as a national model for the integration of complementary and conventional medicine."
The Ogden Family Medical and Dental Center is located at 1067 Ogden Avenue in the Bronx.
The August 26 second-degree murder conviction of Jonathan Schmitz sends a critical message to perpetrators of hate crimes, according to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Schmitz, who killed Scott Amedure after a taping of the Jenny Jones TV talk show in 1995, sought a lesser conviction because, he claimed, Amedure pursued him.
"Hate crimes send messages to entire communities," according to PFLAG Executive Director Kirsten Kingdon. "With its verdict, this jury sent a message back: no matter what their excuse, people who murder based on prejudice will be punished."
Although the Schmitz case has been dubbed "The Jenny Jones Trial," it was actually about hate and homophobia, according to Kingdon. "This was never about talk shows. This was about one man's homophobia, which was brought to light in the most tragic way by a scheduled appearance on national television."
Kingdon noted that "hate crimes hurt families and entire communities." Many PFLAG members have been the victims of hate crimes, and many have even lost family members to antigay murders.
In the wake of the verdict, PFLAG again called on Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), which President Clinton has said he will sign. The Senate passed the measure in July, and will negotiate its fate with the House in upcoming Conference Committee meetings. The HCPA would add gender, disability, and sexual orientation to existing federal hate crime laws.
Over $300,000 in grants to eighteen not-for-profit organizations from across the United States has been awarded to fund peer-based treatment advocacy initiatives that focus on the healthcare needs of HIV-positive African-Americans.
The grants, awarded by Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., will be used to fund programs designed to link HIV-positive African-Americans to HIV treatment programs. The selected programs focus primarily on peer-supported treatment education services and outreach initiatives. The grants may not be used to pay for treatment or pharmaceuticals.
"There is a critical need for programs that address issues inherent to the African-American community in order to empower HIV-positive African-Americans to make informed decisions about treatment," says Dean Mitchell, General Manager of Specialty Divisions at Glaxo Wellcome.
The grants went to programs in ten states and the District of Columbia.
As he assumed the presidency of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Donald I. Abrams, M.D., called for that organization to against what he sees as a growing health problem in the LGBT community.
As a renowned HIV expert and leading medical marijuana researcher and a physician who has been involved in the AIDS epidemic from the beginning, Abrams is personally disturbed by the dangerous trends he sees on the party circuit. "Our younger brothers and sisters, mostly brothers, are abusing party drugs in alarming numbers," he said. "People are now dying of GHB overdoses. Obituaries are appearing in gay newspapers reminiscent of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Medics patrol parties to help users come through the K-holes while dancers pumped with ecstasy may or may not even register the event. Do we have any idea what this generation of our community is doing to their serotonin stores?" As an answer, Abrams wants GLMA to get the message out and to establish harm-reduction programs.
Abrams's one-year term began Saturday, August 28, in San Diego, during the organizations Seventeenth Annual Symposium. Citing GLMA's mission statement to combat homophobia in the medical profession and in society at large, he asked rhetorically in his acceptance speech if it was still necessary to fight that issue as "we close the enlightened twentieth century." Answering his own questions, Abrams went on: "In a don't-ask, don't-tell society that gives rise to the murderers of Matthew Shepard and outs Tinky Winky, I think so."
Abrams is Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Community Consortium, an association of San Francisco Bay Area HIV healthcare providers; Assistant Director of AIDS Programs at San Francisco General Hospital; and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of San Francisco. He currently heads the only federally funded research on medical marijuana.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.