Tag Archives: awareness

Task force celebrating Bisexual Awareness Week

The National LGBTQ Task Force is marking Bisexual Awareness Week 2015 by urging people to learn more about the realities of bisexual people’s lives.

“Much more public education is still needed as misconceptions and stereotypes about bisexual people have serious consequences. For instance, research shows that compared to heterosexual women and gay men, bisexual women experience higher rates of sexual assault, smoking, and suicide,”  said Stacey Long Simmons, director of public policy and government affairs for the National LGBTQ Task Force.

She continued, “Bisexual people are some of the most maligned and misunderstood members of our LGBTQ community. From assuming that we ‘don’t exist’ — even though statistically we comprise the largest group in our community — to the hyper-sexualizing of bisexual people; from saying we are ‘confused’ to suggesting that we can be ‘turned’ gay or lesbian or straight. This week we urge everyone in the LGBTQ community and the general public to educate themselves more about the issues affecting bisexual people. We exist in abundance and we deserve more attention to the reality of our lives.”

Oregon test: soy engineered for heavy pesticide exposure found in infant formula

The Center for Food Safety says genetic testing confirmed the presence of soy genetically engineered by Monsanto for heavy pesticide exposure in infant formula that is being sold in Portland, Oregon. The organization announced the test results on Food Day 2014 and in advance of a vote in Oregon on whether to label genetically engineered foods.

CFS and Dr. Ray Seidler, the first EPA scientist to study genetically engineered crops and former professor at Oregon State University, worked together on carrying out the testing. With recent published studies confirming that genetically engineered soy has significantly higher levels of chemical herbicides than conventionally grown soy, the test findings raise concerns about increasing infant exposure to chemical herbicides.

The testing follows up on a recent nationwide study by Consumer Reports finding genetically engineered ingredients in more than 80 common food products.

“I think most moms purchasing infant formula have no idea they are feeding their baby a product that has been genetically engineered to survive exposure to high levels of chemical pesticides,” Aurora Paulsen with Center for Food Safety’s Portland office said in a statement. “It’s no surprise that Monsanto is the top donor opposing Measure 92 which would give Oregonians the ability to know what foods have been genetically engineered. The presence of these products in infant formula being sold in Oregon really highlights the need for basic labeling.”

Seidler said, “Everything we know from the recent medical literature suggests we should be doing everything possible to reduce infant exposure to chemicals.  Finding soy in infant formula that has been genetically engineered specifically to survive high levels of chemical pesticide spraying is a real concern and takes us in the wrong direction.”

Genetic tests were conducted on three brands of infant formula bought at the Fred Meyer in Portland. Two products that tested positive for genetically engineered soy included Similac Soy Isomil and Enfamil Prosobee Powder Soy Infant Formula. Both products tested positive for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soy that is engineered to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glyphosate, as well as, Liberty Link soy that has been genetically engineered by Bayer Crop Sciences to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glufosinate.

Grant to help inform HIV-positive people of family-building options

The Elton John AIDS Foundation today (Feb. 3) announced a grant to The American Fertility Association to increase awareness of family-building options for HIV-positive men and women.

An announcement from the musician’s foundation said, “n an effort to increase awareness of the medical strides that currently allow HIV-positive individuals to safely have biologically-linked offspring, EJAF and The AFA have joined forces to implement a grass-roots educational campaign specifically targeting HIV-positive individuals, the physicians who serve them, reproductive endocrinologists (fertility specialists), and community-based organizations.”

The campaign will focus on underserved locations in the South, using social media and the Web to reach HIV-positive people considering pregnancy options. The campaign also involves a seminar for professionals on HIV family-building options to educate the medical community on the science and issues involved.

“We’re honored to have support from Elton John AIDS Foundation to help bring hope and awareness to those living with HIV and desiring to safely have biologically-related children,” said Ken Mosesian, executive director of The American Fertility Association.

Mosesian continued, “This work will also give us the platform from which to speak about the continued need for HIV prevention, including condom use.”

“Over the years, advancements in drug therapy and treatment have changed the lives of many people living with HIV/AIDS, making it possible for them to live longer, fuller, healthier lives,” said EJAF executive director Scott Campbell. “HIV-positive people are entitled to be a vital part of our society, just like everyone else. Thanks to groundbreaking advancements in fertility science, there is no reason that children shouldn’t be part of that equation. EJAF is proud to join with The AFA in championing the human rights of people with HIV, including their right to have families of their own.”

Photo: Sir Elton John, right to left, and David Furnish receive The American Fertility Association’s Advocacy Award from board of directors member Guy Ringler. (PRNewsFoto/The American Fertility Association)

Memorial set for man killed on anti-bullying walk

A memorial service has been scheduled for an Oregon man who was killed last week while walking across the country to raise awareness about bullying.

The service to honor 48-year-old Joseph Bell of La Grande, Ore., will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Gilbert Event Center on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande.

Bell died after being struck along a two-lane highway in a rural area of eastern Colorado. Investigators believe the driver fell asleep.

Bell’s 15-year-old son, Jadin, died in February after hanging himself in a schoolyard. He had reported being bullied over his sexual orientation. Bell planned to walk across the nation and tell his son’s story to as many people as possible.

Jadin Bell, 15, hung himself from school playground equipment after enduring what his friends described as relentless in-person and online bullying. He had complained about the bullying to a school counselor at La Grande High School in le Grande, where he was a sophomore.

Bell began his walk in April and planned to finish in New York City.

A family friend, Bud Hill, tells the Oregonian the service is open to the public.

World AIDS Day observed Dec. 1

Advances in the scientific and medical communities along with expanded government health programs have leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS making ambitious declarations for World AIDS Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 1.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme – and the theme at least through 2015 – is “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988 as an opportunity to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. The World AIDS Campaign’s Global Steering Committee is the leading international organization planning and implementing the observance, but most events are scheduled, coordinated and sponsored at the local grassroots level.

The many commemorative programs planned for Dec. 1 include:

• Concerts – the New Wave Singers are performing at a neighborhood benefit in Baltimore that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness, for example.

• Prayer vigils – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chicago, for example, is hosting a service in partnership with HIV/AIDS groups.

• Health fairs – Downtown Dallas’ program with nonprofits and businesses involves a healthy living expo.

• Dedications – the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco holds its 19th annual observance, which includes a reading of the names of those who have died of AIDS.

• Art programs – the Milwaukee Art Museum offers a lecture, “HIV in 2012: Hidden and Unfamiliar,” and displays a recent acquisition, artist Taryn Simon’s photograph, “Live HIV, HIV Research Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (see cover story).

World AIDS Day activists encourage event participation, but their campaigns also emphasize getting tested for HIV – which is crucial in the push to get to zero new infections. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, at 30 years old GMHC was one of the first HIV/AIDS organizations established, is sponsoring a week of testing in New York City, which remains the epicenter of HIV/AIDS in the United States. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says more than 107,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV, but thousands more don’t know they’re infected. New York City’s AIDS case rate is almost three times the U.S. average and AIDS is the third leading cause of death for residents aged 35 to 54.

At the national level, on average, every 9 1/2 minutes someone becomes infected with HIV. More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, but about one in five do not know their status.

“With approximately 20 percent of people living with HIV in the United States unaware of their status, we must do more to encourage everyone – not just those deemed to be ‘at risk’ for HIV – to be tested,” said Kali Lindsey of the National AIDS Minority Council.

Earlier in November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force drafted a recommendation calling for HIV screening to become part of routine health checkups for people between the ages of 15 and 65. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has recommended that HIV screening become as common as cholesterol testing.

“By making HIV screening a routine part of any health care visit, the draft USPSTF recommendation would eliminate the need for either the patient or clinician to recognize risk factors prior to testing and may serve to reduce the stigma associated with offering or requesting an HIV test,” Lindsey said.

Additionally, if the task force recommendation is adopted, HIV testing likely would become a no-charge preventive service covered by insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare.

At aids.gov, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site, there’s a search tool to find HIV testing sites, including free services.

For World AIDS Day, activists also are encouraging social media campaigns to color Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter red and adorn pages with red ribbons and to encourage Google to create a “doodle” for the day.

Mark the dates

World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1 each year.

Other HIV/AIDS Awareness days on the calendar include:

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Feb. 7; National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, March 10; National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, March 20; HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18; National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, May 19; Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, June 8; National HIV Testing Day, June 27; National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, Sept. 18; National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Sept. 27; National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Oct. 15.

For more, go to aids.gov.

Transgender woman sexually assaulted in D.C.

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department Department is searching for a suspect who sexually assaulted and robbed a transgender woman on Sept. 23.

The Advocate reports that the assault occurred at about 4:45 a.m. Sunday. The man approached the woman, hit her and forced her at gunpoint to a building in the in the 5000 block of East Capitol Street Northeast, where he sexually assaulted her. He took the woman’s purse as he fled.

Authorities described the suspect as a dark-complexioned man, in his early 20s, about 5’7″, with brown eyes and short braids. He was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers.

The assault is the latest in a series of attacks on transgender women in the city in the past year.

Earlier this month, Washington unveiled an unprecedented transgender awareness campaign.

D.C. government unveils transgender awareness campaign

The District of Columbia government has launched what it calls the nation’s first government-sponsored campaign to promote awareness and understanding of transgender people.

Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Office of Human Rights unveiled five ads on Sept. 13 to be displayed around the U.S. capital. The ads feature transgender residents of the district who deliver messages of respect, with quotes about their lives and favorite district activities.

“While working together on this groundbreaking campaign, I have been continuously impressed by the courage and determination of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities here in the District,” said OHR director Gustavo Velasquez. “The Office of Human Rights is proud to partner with these communities in eradicating the injustices they too often face, and we know this partnership will extend far beyond the life of this campaign.”

The campaign messages were created over a four-month period with involvement from transgender advocates, three focus groups and numerous organizations, including Alston Marketing, Casa Ruby, DC Trans Coalition, Transgender Health Empowerment, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project, Movement Advancement Project, National Center for Transgender Equality and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

“I chose to participate in this campaign and advocate on behalf of the transgender community in memory of LaShay McLean, my intern who was killed last year because she was a transgender woman,” said Iden Campbell McCollum, a mental health advocate and transgender man who is featured in one of the ads. “Our community still faces high levels of discrimination and violence, but things are improving, and the government’s willingness to launch a campaign for our community speaks to that improvement.”

The mayor said he wants to ensure that transgender people have equal access to employment, housing and public accommodations and that they feel safe.

Gray launched the campaign at MOVA Lounge, an LGBT bar in the trendy U Street area of northwest Washington.

“This district is committed to ensuring that all people are protected from discrimination, and that includes discrimination against the transgender and gender-non-conforming communities,” Gray said in a statement. “This landmark campaign from the Office of Human Rights is an important piece of a larger effort by my administration to ensure all residents have equal access to employment, housing and public services and accommodations regardless of gender identity or expression.”

LGBT Health Awareness Week begins

National LGBT Health Awareness Week takes place through March 30, with organizers asking people to share their health care stories online.

The week, sponsored by the National Coalition for LGBT Health, coincides with Supreme Court oral arguments over the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The coalition partners and the Rainbow Access Initiative want to hear from LGBT consumers on:

• How federal healthcare reform has or how it will impact them.

• What unmet health care needs they have.

• The importance of LGBT culturally competency when searching for a health care provider.

The information collected will be provided to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is working to improve care for LGBT people.

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