FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Waheedah Shabazz-El, Founding Member, email@example.com, (267) 231-2647
Sonia Rastogi, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, (408) 306-6805
April 16, 2013, New York, NY – “Tyler Perry’s Temptation left me emotionally pained, angry and disappointed. Mr. Perry, a brilliant film maker, missed a genuine opportunity for honest and accurate community education around HIV. Instead, Temptation perpetuated HIV sensationalism and stigma. It demonized people living with HIV as irresponsible and portrayed women who acquire HIV as an undesirable, reclusive, sub-species, destined to live out their lives in suffering commented Waheedah Shabazz-El, a woman living with HIV.
Two weekends and $212.7 million later, Tyler Perry’s film Temptation perpetuates the War on Women, fuels stigma and discrimination towards people of color and people living with HIV, and condones the belief that people living with HIV are sinners, who deserve punishment.
Positive Women’s Network – USA, a national membership body of women living with HIV advocating for the rights and dignity of all women, is deeply disturbed by Perry’s stigmatizing portrayal of women, people living with HIV, and people of color. Instead of using his film as a moment to challenge the rampant violence against women in our society, break down the self-hatred that causes people to live in shame, and showcase powerful role models for our young girls and boys, Perry demonizes and vilifies people of color and people living with HIV – two of the most targeted, profiled, and marginalized communities in the U.S.
By perpetuating a rhetoric that raises illogical fears that HIV-positive people are inherently violent, corrupt, immoral, and deviant, Perry plays into the misguided belief that people living with HIV deserve to be punished. In the U.S., HIV criminalization laws are real. They separate families and lock up people in 34 states and 2 territories. These laws are barriers, preventing people from HIV testing, accessing treatment and seeking medical care or social support. Many people living with HIV believe they do not deserve a fulfilling and dignified life. These laws do not prevent HIV transmission, they keep people from knowing their status or seeking care. His film effectively reverses the phenomenal victories of groups working to combat HIV stigma and criminalization, including the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, SERO Project and Positive Justice Project.
By creating a rhetoric that condones violence against women and blames women for their “actions,” Perry dismisses the complex realities of women’s lives.
Movies and messages like this reinforce judgments that are akin to a societal death penalty. Women are dying because they can’t bear knowing and/or don’t want anyone else to know that they may be living with HIV. Thus they may choose not to engage in care, take medication, and/or disclose. 2 out of 3 women who newly test positive are Black women. Women are more likely to be diagnosed late with a dual HIV and AIDS diagnosis. In addition, Black women account for the largest share of deaths among all women living with HIV and in 2009, HIV was the 4th leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 44. Stigma and discrimination are largely responsible for women getting sick faster and dying sooner.
As partners, sisters, mothers, daughters, teachers, and lovers, living with HIV, we denounce Perry’s portrayal of HIV as a punishment for bad behavior. We further denounce Perry’s portrayal of HIV-positive women as unworthy of love, incapable of relationships, and his portrayal of men living with HIV as sexually irresponsible predators.
Positive Women’s Network – USA calls for the responsible and respectful use of the media by filmmakers. Mr. Perry, as someone with incredible power, resources, and privilege to dictate our society’s culture and norms, it is your responsibility to accurately represent those who you portray. Give us a call next time you want to make a film about women and HIV.
Today and tomorrow the Kansas Legislature will consider a bill that would expand the authority of state and local health officials to impose isolation or quarantine on people living with HIV and other infectious diseases. But quarantine statutes are designed for dangerous diseases spread through casual contact, thus presenting a danger to overall public health.
HIV is not transmitted by casual contact, and it makes no sense that people living with HIV must be quarantined or isolated for public health reasons.
The bill as written is offensive, stigmatizing, and does not serve to address any real public health crisis. It perpetuates outdated myths about HIV transmission and people living with HIV. It refers to people living with HIV and other infectious diseases as “afflicted”. There is no public health reason to lock up or quarantine people living with HIV, nor to loosen restrictions on authority to do so.
The bill, Substitute for Kansas HB-2183 will also allow testing of individuals with HIV and other diseases in “occupational exposure” circumstances without consent of the individual and without requiring that a court previously find there is a sound medical basis for the testing.
However, the definition of what may constitute “occupational exposure” is excessively broad, does not include any distinction between, for example, fluids that may transmit HIV and those that do not (e.g. saliva vs blood or semen), routes of exposure that may transmit HIV and those that do not (contact on unbroken skin vs a needle stick), and what type of occupations are being included. Thus there is nothing to prevent a teacher, for example, who has heard a rumor that a parent of her student is HIV-positive, to demand HIV testing of a child who spits on her unbroken skin. This is outrageous.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) claims that the bill was originally designed to: 1) protect first responders from infectious diseases and 2) reduce HIV stigma by eliminating specific protections for HIV. But according to Catherine Hanssens of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, there has been no documented case of HIV transmission to a first responder in over 30 years of the U.S. HIV epidemic.
The bill permits for HIV testing without consent and says nothing about counseling as part of the testing process, nor does it allude to referrals to any type of medical, mental health, or supportive services that may be needed upon diagnosis of a life-threatening condition. It provides no protections for confidentiality, and in fact, a previous version of the bill may have opened the door for physicians and providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to partners, spouses, and other providers without her consent.
The substitute bill abridges civil rights and liberties of people living with HIV and other infectious diseases. Substitute for HB-2183 adds the terms “reasonable and medically necessary” as limitations on expanding testing and quarantine authority under the bill. However, the bill fails to define those terms and does not provide a clear standard for what constitutes a “medically necessary and reasonable” restriction.
Write Kansas legislators today to say that the current bill must be rejected or amended consistent with KDHE’s stated intentions and to uphold the rights and dignity of people living with HIV.
Please cc: your emails to us so we can track them at: positivewomensnetworkusa(at)gmail.com.
Below is language you can use in your letter. Feel free to cut and paste and add anything in to personalize.
I write to you to express my concern about Substitute for HB 2183. Over thirty years into the epidemic, HIV remains a highly stigmatized disease and recent research demonstrates that there are still significant myths and misunderstandings about modes of HIV transmission, many of which are evident in public policy and practice.
Substitute for HB 2183 as written perpetrates stigma against people living with HIV and does not accurately reflect current medical and scientific knowledge about how HIV is and is not transmitted. It violates the rights of people living with HIV.
Further, it fails in the stated intention to strengthen protections for individuals who may be occupationally exposed to HIV, who should have timely access to post-exposure prophylaxis in those very rare situations where occupational exposure and a risk of transmission may have actually occurred, regardless of a source patient’s test result, because it can take several months after infection before an HIV-positive person’s antibody test is reactive.
In addition, Substitute for HB 2183 does not define which settings occupational exposure is restricted to, thus allowing for any employee in any setting to claim occupational exposure and demand testing under the circumstances where they are exposed to any bodily fluid, including saliva, which does not transmit HIV. Further, the bill does not provide for counseling of individuals who are tested for HIV, referrals to necessary medical and mental health services if they are diagnosed HIV-positive, nor for protections of confidentiality upon diagnosis.
For these reasons, I urge you to reject Substitute for HB 2183 as written, or at minimum to include the following amendments:
- Section 1.E. Add clarifying language that “potentially infectious materials” should reflect current medical and scientific knowledge about the disease being tested for and the mode of exposure.
- Section 2. B. Add that testing should be voluntary and that the secretary of health and environment should clarify the minimum factors required to seek involuntary testing, which must be reasonable and medically necessary, based on current medical and scientific knowledge.
- Section 2. B. Add: “The authority for isolation or quarantine shall not extend to infectious diseases or conditions that do not pose a significant transmission risk through casual contact.”
- Section 2.B. Add: The authority for involuntary testing shall not extend to infectious diseases or conditions that do not pose a significant transmission risk through occupational exposure or casual contact.”
- Section 2.B. Remove the phrase “afflicted with or exposed to such diseases” and replace with “living or exposed to such diseases”
- Section 2.C. Add clarifying language that “potentially infectious materials” should reflect current medical and scientific knowledge about the disease being tested for and the mode of exposure.
- Section 2. Add language to provide for counseling when HIV testing takes place, regardless of test result, protections to assure confidentiality, and referrals to medically necessary services as well as mental health and other services if an HIV test is positive.
Thank you for your consideration.
Energy attracts attention. Energy attracts followers. The leader who demonstrates enthusiasm and energy will gain the acceptance and confidence of others. Energy conveys the ideas of authority, of excitement, of success, and of purposeful activity. The principle of energy says that a real leader must exude energy, “the vigorous exertion of power” and “the capacity of acting or being active.”
The leader’s energy is demonstrated through physical vitality. Even though he or she may be older or have a physical handicap, the leader radiates good health and purposeful activity. The leader’s energy is demonstrated through mental alertness. He or she is not necessarily an intellectual giant, but he or she wil use their mind to its fullest for observation, foresight, and reflection and reasoning. The leader’s energy is demonstrated through hard work. Work is the most common expression of human energy and the leader will enjoy it and purse it. The leader’s physical, intellectual, and emotional energy is demonstrated through commitment and perserverance as he or she believes in and works toward their goal against all odds. A leader’s energy is demonstrated through attention to details because the little things will make or break you.
It is true that some people naturally possess more energy than others. Nevertheless, it is possible to increase your energy level. You can maximize your energy level by eating right, exercising regularly, maintaining a proper mental attitude, eliminating negative emotions, and by walking in fellowship with God.
Adapted from Lead On, by John Edmund Haggai
20130217 NAPWA Statement
GNP+NA notes with sadness and disappointment the dissolution of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
NAPWA was founded 30 years ago, shortly after the meeting where the seminal “Denver Principles” self-empowerment manifesto was written and adopted by people living with AIDS. Since then, NAPWA played an important role in fostering HIV positive leadership and advocating on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS.
While we salute the historical role of NAPWA and valuable work done by those who were part of NAPWA over the years, we also know that the organization often struggled to fulfill its mission to be an effective national voice of and for people living with HIV/AIDS.
As the North American affiliate of the Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, GNP+NA believes that the closing of NAPWA must be the impetus for a far-ranging participatory discussion that re-imagines and strengthens PLWHA organizing and leadership in the United States.
One of the first steps must be a full, honest and transparent explanation of the circumstances and actions leading to NAPWA’s closure. Like others in the AIDS community, we have recently been made aware of troubling issues that appear to have led to the bankruptcy. Any tax-exempt group that has raised and spent tens of millions in contributions, grants and government funds over the years owes such accountability to the community they purport to represent.
There are now more people than ever living with HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world. While transmission rates have stabilized or even fallen in some communities, other communities are ravaged by an epidemic that continues to grow and rage unchecked.
The need for the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly those from the most vulnerable communities, has never been more critical. Yet the commitment to empowering people with HIV, by those in government, NGOs and civil society, seems to exist more in rhetoric than in reality.
Despite that lack of support, there are countless vibrant and effective HIV positive leaders and activists working at every level of this epidemic from the grassroots to national and global organizations. There are thousands more who are capable of leadership, but who aren’t provided the encouragement, opportunity and support to find their voices.
GNP+NA intends to work with colleagues and committed allies to turn a sad milestone—the closure of one of the very first organizations representing people with HIV—into an essential community dialogue involving the full, rich and exciting diversity of all communities of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
Together we can and must build a stronger, more inclusive, representative, and accountable movement by and for people living with HIV. Because like those early pioneers who met in a hotel room in Denver and wrote a radical manifesto that has been heard around the world, we are still “Fighting for our Lives” and we are fighting for the lives of each other.
BREAKING: PACHA Passes Resolution Condemning HIV Criminalization
President’s Advisory Council on AIDS (PACHA)
Resolution on Ending Federal and State HIV-Specific Criminal Laws, Prosecutions, and Civil Commitments
Resolution passed Feb. 7, 2013
Despite the relatively low risk of transmission and significantly lowered level of harm, thirty-four U.S. states and territories have adopted criminal statutes based on perceived exposure to HIV. Most of these laws were adopted before the availability of effective antiretroviral therapy for HIV, which substantially reduces already low transmission risks and provides a pathway to highly successful HIV treatment. Clearly the use of HIV-specific criminal laws, of felony laws such as attempted murder and aggravated assault, and of sentence enhancements to prosecute HIV-positive individuals are based on outdated and erroneous beliefs about the routes, risks, and consequences of HIV transmission. Legal standards applied in HIV criminalization cases regarding intent, harm, and proportionality deviate from generally accepted criminal law principles and reflect stigma toward HIV and HIV-positive individuals. People living with HIV have been charged under aggravated assault, attempted murder, and even bioterrorism statutes, and they face more severe penalties because law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and legislators continue to view and characterize people living with HIV and their bodily fluids as inherently dangerous, even as “deadly weapons.” Punishments imposed for non-disclosure of HIV status, exposure, or HIV transmission are grossly out of proportion to the actual harm inflicted and reinforce the fear and stigma associated with HIV. Public health leaders and global policy makers agree that HIV criminalization is unjust, bad public health policy and is fueling the epidemic rather than reducing it.
Whereas the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) includes a statement on the problem and public health consequences of HIV criminalization and notes that many state HIV-specific criminal laws reflect long-outdated misperceptions of HIV’s modes and relative risks of transmission; that criminal law has been unjustly used in the United States to prosecute and disproportionately sentence people with HIV; and that legislators reconsider whether these laws further the public interest and support public health approaches to preventing and treating HIV;
Whereas nearly all HIV-specific criminal laws do not consider correct and consistent condom use and effective antiretroviral therapy that reduces the risk of HIV transmission to near-zero as evidence of a lack of intent or ability to harm; and behaviors that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have negligible risk of transmitting HIV, such as spitting and biting, have resulted in sentences as long as 35 years;
Whereas sound criminal justice and public health policy toward people living with HIV is consistent with an evidence-based approach to disease control and research demonstrates that HIV-specific laws do not reduce transmission or increase disclosure and may discourage HIV testing;
Whereas criminalization harms women and young people, as well as men, with HIV in many ways, because it:
1. Creates a tool for control by abusers who threaten prosecution of partners who want to leave abusive relationships;
2. Complicates custody disputes and pregnancies;
3. Imprisons women and young people for non-disclosure without regard for complex reasons such as fear of violence or other situations when disclosure may not be advisable or safe;
4. Over-targets sex workers, against whom condom possession has been used as evidence of intent to commit a crime;
Whereas punishments imposed for non-disclosure of HIV status, exposure, or HIV transmission, including the use of sex offender registries and indefinite civil commitment, are out of proportion to the actual harm inflicted or intended and reinforce the fear and stigma associated with HIV;
Whereas singling out HIV or any other health condition or disability as a basis for prosecution or sentence enhancement is unjust and unwarranted from legal, ethical, and public health perspectives;
Be it resolved that the PACHA recommends that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/CDC complete a written review regarding opportunities for the creation of specific guidance and incentives to state attorneys general and state departments of health for the elimination of HIV-specific criminal laws and to develop recommendations for approaches to HIV within the civil and criminal justice systems that are consistent with the treatment of similar health and safety risks; and supports legislation, such as the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act, that advances these objectives;
Be it further resolved that current criminal laws require modernization to eliminate HIV-specific statutes or application of general criminal law that treats HIV status, or the use of condoms or other measure to prevent HIV transmission, as the basis for criminal prosecution or sentence enhancement;
Be it further resolved that Federal and state officials should review the HIV-specific convictions and related penalties, sentence enhancements, and other restrictions imposed on people living with HIV, such as mandated sex-offender registration and civil commitment. In the event that such convictions or sentence enhancements fail to conform to the principles outlined above, federal and state officials should take appropriate measures (e.g., executive clemency, pardon, sentence reconsideration, parole, probation) to mitigate the harm caused to individuals;
Be it further resolved that all U.S. law should be consistent with current medical and scientific knowledge and accepted human rights-based approaches to disease control and prevention and avoid imposition of unwarranted punishment based on health and disability status;
Be it further resolved that the CDC should issue a clear statement addressing the growing evidence that HIV criminalization and punishments are counterproductive and undermine current HIV testing and prevention priorities.
“Our Ancestors Fought So That We Might Be Free-Even From HIV”
February 7, 2013 marks the 13th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and across the Diaspora.
There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatment.
*Educationally, the focus is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities.
*Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7 of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV.
*When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. We need Black people from all walks of life, economic classes, literacy levels, shades and tones as well as communities (large and small) to get connected to the work happening on the ground in their local areas.
*And lastly, for those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, getting them connected to treatment and care services becomes paramount.
We cannot lead Black people towards HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing, leadership or treatment unless you love them. And, we can’t save Black people from an epidemic unless we serve Black people.
To find a testing location close to you if an event is not listed here, go to http://hivtest.cdc.gov/
Your greatest opportunities are cleverly disguised as insurmountable problems. The principle of opportunity says that life is a series of obstacles and that these obstacles hold the key to your greatest opportunities if you only discipline yourself to see opportunities everywhere.
Anyone can make a mistake. That takes no genius. You should learn from your blunders. Convert them to unexpected benefits. To put the principle of opportunity into practice, you need to learn how to handle mistakes and how to profit from blunders.
First, admit the blunder the moment you know about it. You can never correct a situation if you don’t admit it exists. And if mistakes are uncorrected, they multiply and grow worse.
Second, assume accountability for the blunder. Unless you assume accountability both for your own mistakes and those of the people in your group, you cannot correct them and profit from them.
Third, evaluate the damage. Ask yourself such questions as: What effects will the blunder have by upsetting deadlines? How will this blunder interfere with the work of others? Will it adversely affect the “big picture”? How will it affect the testimony I have?
Fourth, do an in-depth study of the possible causes of the blunder. Blunders are the result of 1) an error in judgment, 2) poor planning, 3) insufficient information, or 4) defective follow-up. Examine all these areas in depth.
Fifth, immediately eliminate the causes for the blunder. Take action. Write down your plan. Work this into your goals program.
Sixth, salvage what you can. Make the most of the assets you have.
Seventh, revise your modus operandi so that the blunder won’t be repeated. Constantly evaluate what you do to see if it can be improved, not just in relation to this one blunder, but in relation to all your activities. This requires constant questioning and study.
Eighth, begin to execute the new program immediately. Procrastination will only make the situation worse. Begin your correction right away.
Ninth, use blunders as road signs as they mark both where you have been in the past, as well as where you should go in the future. Learn from your mistakes.
Tenth, remember that obstacles enhance leadership by 1) the credibility you develop with others who realize you have experienced what they are experiencing 2) the conditioning of your own spirit for service, and 3) the opportunity to demonstrate love, humility, and self-control.
There need to be two words of warning: first, a leader neither attempts to shine or whine. He or she must not complain that he or she is sacrificing. Second, it’s unrealistic and dishonoring to God to treat obstacles as though they don’t exist. They do.
The leader, under God, will develop the habit of creatively converting obstacles into opportunities. This habit will enhance one’s leadership by inspiring those who follow their leadership.
Adapted from Lead On, by John Edmund Haggai
“HIV and Nutrition”
Presented by Bethsheba Johnson, Gilead Sciences, ACNP
Monday, January 14th, 2013
6:00pm – 8:00pm
655 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80203
(located on the 0 bus line and there’s a parking lot behind the building)
Gilead Sciences and The Issue of Blood Outreach
On World AIDS Day, 2012, the state of Colorado launched an anti-stigma and discrimination campaign. This endeavor has been a community effort spearheaded by individuals and organizations who are coming together to begin open and honest conversations about HIV stigma, the barriers it creates to healthy discussions around risk, testing and accessing care. Our goal is to also engage the positive community in honest conversations about HIV as well, because we also recognize that people living with HIV also have internalized stigmas that need to be brought to the forefront and addressed.
Thus the Compassion-Ending the Stigma Campaign was born. This is an educational campaign that asks people to take a survey that can be found on our website or face book page. The survey will be available through-out the month of December and will be available in both English and Spanish. The survey will measure an individual’s stigmatizing beliefs. With the information derived from the survey, Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) will take the data and share it on a national level.
As an African-American woman living openly with HIV, I have experienced stigma numerous times over the 26 years of my diagnosis. A very vivid memory is of a dear friend of mine who became my ally and an HIV educator to her mother, about my status. My friend is primary caregiver to her two beautiful grandsons. I have had very honest and open conversations with her about my diagnosis over the years, because in my journey I have learned that this chronic health condition of HIV is nothing to be ashamed of. It no longer has any power to dictate my actions, feelings or beliefs about myself. With this as my state of being, I have been able to share my truth (and fears) with my friend. So when her mother asked her if she was afraid to have me around her grandsons, for fear that I would transmit HIV to them, my friend very confidently was able to share with her mother that me and my health condition was nothing to be feared, and the reasons why.
I believe this is a responsibility we all have as people living with HIV. It is our hope that on World AIDS Day and beyond, that those in the Colorado community who will be speaking at, or engaged in a World AIDS Day event, will incorporate Compassion-Ending the Stigma Campaign into their message, and to encourage their audience to take the survey.
May we continue to embrace and rejoice in our truth, and to share that truth so that others will feel comfortable sharing their truth, and/or fear about being tested, as well as their fears and convictions about their HIV status.
Our contact information is:
Facebook Group: COMPASSION
Penny DeNoble ( A Positive Woman Living Positively)
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.
In 2012, there were 20 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 21 posts. There were 164 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 274 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was September 15th with 108 views. The most popular post that day was Photo Gallery.
How did they find this blog?
The top referring sites in 2012 were:
Some visitors came searching, mostly for principle of communication, issue of blood, principle of vision, and the principle of communication.
Where did they come from?
That’s 52 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United States. Malaysia & India were not far behind.