THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

National HIV/AIDS Strategy released today

This comes from the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance via the CHAMP Network (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project). They also run the "UNSHACKLE" project, which specifically addresses HIV/AIDS behind bars and has lined up in support of a number of other prisoner-rights issues. The UNSHACKLE list-serve is a tremendous resource for anyone seriously interested in HIV/AIDS in prison - as is their website.

This announcement is for Obama's press conference later today, but several links are embedded in it that will be useful for awhile (such as this one: nationalaidsstrategy.org) so read on:

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Dear Friend of CHAMP,

Over the past three years, we have been fighting together for a National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Today, it will be launched by President Obama.

We invite you to join us in ensuring the Strategy becomes a tool for HIV Prevention Justice.

TODAY: The press conference launching the Strategy (2 pm Eastern) will be a live webcast from the White House complex at WhiteHouse.gov/live. Join us for a LIVE BLOG at www.preventionjustice.org DURING the webcast to share your thoughts, analysis, and ideas. President Obama will also speak on the Strategy via live webcast at 6 pm.

We have been told by numerous people involved in the creation of the strategy that we MUST "hold their feet to the fire" on implementation. If we agree that the Strategy has key elements that reflect human rights and principles of HIV Prevention Justice, you can rely on the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance to join together in action to demand implementation and monitoring. Thus, we will make sure you have all available materials to help analyze and act on the Strategy.

Below, you will find the information for:

- TODAY's live web broadcast and the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance Live Blog of the Strategy launch (as well as the link for watching the President's address on the Strategy at 6 pm ET).

- resources for evaluating the Strategy and/or leveraging its release for local use.

- an invitation to a conference call sponsored by the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy.

- the New York Times story from yesterday's paper with leaks from the Strategy itself.

As the Strategy launches today, know that it was your dedication, passion and voices that demanded its creation. And know that we must stay in the fight if it is to succeed. Our thanks to you, and our invitation to move forward together.

Yours in the struggle,

David, Dazon, Julie, Pat, Waheedah, Walt and all of us at CHAMP and the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance

1) TODAY: webcasts and liveblog:

On Tuesday, July 13, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House officials will unveil the Obama Administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Watch the presentation of the plan online at WhiteHouse.gov/live at 2:00 p.m. ET. Open another web browser window and join the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance Live Blog at the same time at www.preventionjustice.org.

Later, President Barack Obama will deliver remarks at a White House reception honoring the HIV/AIDS Community. The President's address can also be viewed online at WhiteHouse.gov/live at 6:00 p.m. ET.

2) How to get the Strategy, and tools for evaluating and leveraging it:

From the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy:

On Tuesday afternoon, the Strategy will be posted online at: WhiteHouse.gov/ONAP. To help prepare community members for the announcement, the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy developed this Guide to Communicating about the Strategy, which offers ideas on how to leverage the plan to garner local and national attention for urgent issues in our communities. Other helpful resources include the Gender Monitoring Toolkit and Report Card developed by a coalition of groups to evaluate and monitor the Strategy from a human rights and gender perspective. Moving Beyond the Status Quo summarizes the recommendations of an independent working group to improve chances the Strategy is effective. Other community recommendations for the plan are posted at nationalaidsstrategy.org.

3) Conference call to discuss the Strategy:

The Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy will host a community conference call on Tuesday, August 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET to share community reactions to the Strategy, report on the International AIDS Conference taking place later this month in Vienna, and discuss advocacy steps needed to move implementation of the Strategy forward. The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance will ensure you have the details on how to join.

3) New York Times Story:

Obama to Outline Plan to Cut H.I.V. Infections

By ROBERT PEAR
New York Times
July 12, 2010

WASHINGTON - Pwill unveil a new national strategy this week to curb the AIDS epidemic by slashing the number of new infections and increasing the number of people who get care and treatment.

"Annual AIDS deaths have declined, but the number of new infections has been static and the number of people living with H.I.V. is growing," says a final draft of the report, obtained by The New York Times.

In the report, the administration calls for steps to reduce the annual number of new H.I.V. infections by 25 percent within five years. "Approximately 56,000 people become infected each year, and more than 1.1 million Americans are living with H.I.V.," the report says.

Mr. Obama plans to announce the strategy, distilled from 15 months of work and discussions with thousands of people around the country, at the White House on Tuesday.

While acknowledging that "increased investments in certain key areas are warranted," the report does not propose a major increase in federal spending. It says the administration will redirect money to areas with the greatest need and population groups at greatest risk, including gay and bisexual men and African-Americans. The federal government now spends more than $19 billion a year on domestic AIDS programs.

On average, the report says, one person is newly infected with H.I.V. every nine and a half minutes, but tens of thousands of people with the virus are not receiving any care. If they got care, the report says, they could prolong their own lives and reduce the spread of the virus to others. By 2015 the report says, the United States should "increase the proportion of newly diagnosed patients linked to clinical care within three months of their H.I.V. diagnosis to 85 percent," from the current 65 percent.

The first-ever national AIDS strategy has been in the works since the start of the administration. It comes in the context of growing frustrations expressed by some gay rights groups. They say that more money is urgently needed for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and they assert that the White House has not done enough to secure repeal of the law banning military service by people who are openly gay or bisexual.

The report tries to revive the sense of urgency that gripped the nation in the first years after discovery of the virus that causes AIDS. "Public attention to the H.I.V. epidemic has waned," the report says. "Because H.I.V. is treatable, many people now think that it is no longer a public health emergency."

The report calls for "a more coordinated national response to the H.I.V. epidemic" and lays out specific steps to be taken by various federal agencies.

Mr. Obama offers a compliment to President George W. Bush, who made progress against AIDS in Africa by setting clear goals and holding people accountable.

The program begun by Mr. Bush, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, "has taught us valuable lessons about fighting H.I.V. and scaling up efforts around the world that can be applied to the domestic epidemic," the report says.

Mr. Obama's strategy is generally consistent with policies recommended by public health specialists and advocates for people with H.I.V. But some experts had called for higher goals, more aggressive timetables and more spending on prevention and treatment.

The report makes these points:

¶ Far too many people infected with H.I.V. are unaware of their status and may unknowingly transmit the virus to their partners. By 2015, the proportion of people with H.I.V. who know of their condition should be increased to 90 percent, from 79 percent today.

¶ The new health care law will significantly expand access to care for people with H.I.V., but federal efforts like the Ryan White program will still be needed to fill gaps in services.

¶ Federal spending on H.I.V. testing and prevention does not match the need. States with the lowest numbers of H.I.V./AIDS cases often receive the most money per case. The federal government should allocate more of the money to states with the highest "burden of disease."

¶ Health officials must devote "more attention and resources" to gay and bisexual men, who account for slightly more than half of new infections each year, and African-Americans, who account for 46 percent of people living with H.I.V.

¶ The H.I.V. transmission rate, which indicates how fast the epidemic is spreading, should be reduced by 30 percent in five years. At the current rate, about 5 of every 100 people with H.I.V. transmit the virus to someone in a given year.

If the transmission rate is unchanged, the report says, "within a decade, the number of new infections would increase to more than 75,000 per year and the number of people living with H.I.V. would grow to more than 1.5 million."

The report finds that persistent discrimination against people with H.I.V. is a major barrier to progress in fighting the disease.

"The stigma associated with H.I.V. remains extremely high," it says. "People living with H.I.V. may still face discrimination in many areas of life, including employment, housing, provision of health care services and access to public accommodations."

The administration promises to "strengthen enforcement of civil rights laws" protecting people with H.I.V.

One political challenge for the administration is to win broad public support for a campaign that will focus more narrowly on specific groups and communities at high risk for H.I.V. infection.

"Just as we mobilize the country to support cancer research whether or not we believe that we are at high risk of cancer and we support public education whether or not we have children," the report says, "fighting H.I.V. requires widespread public support to sustain a long-term effort."

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