Justin's HIV Journal

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Supreme Court Prop 8 and DOMA Rally

I work in downtown Washington DC and I love it.  But recently did you know that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 is having a hearing at the Supreme Court to determine whether or not they are constitutional.  Lets first start with the facts shall we?

PROP 8: is a California state constitution amendment which passed in late 2008 in there state elections. 

Proposition 8 came directly from Proposition 22, which states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the state of California.  BUT the Supreme Court of California decided in 2008 that Proposition 22 was unconstitutional which would leave up to the voters in late 2008 when they had their state elections.  Since California has a huge gay population with liberal alike people thought it would definitely turn in the liberals favor.  But alas it did not.  MORMONS, MORMONS MORMONS!!!!. (Not saying ALL Mormons are bad) Well hearing all this money was being secretly raised by those in the Mormon faith to ban same sex marriage in California once and for all.  Also the advocates for same sex marriage made one mistake as well.  People needed to take the message of same sex marriage outside the borders of cities that were already known to be liberal and start hitting more conservative parts of the state which did not happen. 

(PSSSTTT I was a canvasser for same-sex marriage in Maryland.  You know, going door to door advocating for it.  Well that's what we did hear in Maryland AND IT SEEMED TO WORK, point of reflection).

After the voted were counted in late November 2008 all in all the Proposition would add the amendment to California's constitution that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. BUT the U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8 on August 4, 2010 because of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger. The Honorable Judge Vaughn Walker decided that  Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Walker then filed that Proposition was not to be enforced until the appeal which would not be held until February 7th, 2012, when the circuit court ultimately agreed with Walker's ruling. Walker was also under scrutiny because he himself was gay, but was later to be excused because the law was unconstitutional which had nothing to do with Walker's sexuality.  But the court still said that no more marriages can take place until further appeals take place.  On June 5th 2012 was court denied hearing anymore cases on Proposition 8, so opponents of Prop 8 filed to request that the Supreme Court review the case, on July 30, 2012. On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted the proponents' petition.  The Supreme Court is looking into if this is constitutional and heard arguments on March 26th, 2013.

DOMA: is a Federal law that restricts benefits and marriage recognition to ONLY opposite sex marriages in the United States.  Unfortunately, in 1996 the after passing both the houses in the U.S Congress the bill it was signed into law by one of my favorite President Bill Clinton.  The former President now regrets having signed DOMA into law and wishes he could take it back.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have gone on record in support of same-sex marriage.  One of the main problems with DOMA was Section 3.  Section 3 states that when it came to same-sex marriage federal benefits like insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns are NOT recognized. 

After 8 years of a lack in leadership from Former President Bush, President Barack Obama was voted into office.  The Obama administration determined that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional and said that it would not defend it in court.  Republican leaders decided to use the Dept of Justice to try to defend it in court, but Section 3 would be later found unconstitutional by 8 federal courts.  The main issues that people spoke on were issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration.  The Supreme Court on March 27th, 2013 heard arguments on both sides. 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Majority of Newly diagnosed HIV cases in Philadelphia already have AIDS

Every three years the CDC puts out its HIV Surveillance Report which gives a status on infection rates by city, state, region etc.  After the results of he report came out it was found that Philadelphia was ranked 24th among metropolitan area for new AIDS diagnosis.  Over 75% of new HIV cases found were actually stage 3 AIDS.  Currently there are about 12,000 people in Philadelphia living with HIV/AIDS. 

What do you think the problem is?  Are people not getting tested early enough?  Are people becoming complacent with HIV in general?

People are now living longer and longer with the HIV virus.  Some are still in the mindset that if they get HIV or put their selves at risk they can just take care of it later.  Well that is not the case.  Once you are infected with the HIV virus the best thing to do is to seek help/treatment.  The earlier you are able to get to a doctor the better.  Some people are afraid to get test because they are fearful of the results and HIV stigma.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Justin's HIV Journal: 28% of South African School Girls are HIV positive

According to the BBC 28% of South African school girls are HIV positive.  This is such a travesty.  The South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is stating that young men are not infecting them but older men are.  The South African Health Department put out this ad to engage the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

What do you think?  Helpful or Stigmatizing?

Motsoaledi was put into off in 2009 by Former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  Mbeki was instrumental in brainwashing a lot of citizens to believe that HIV does not cause AIDS, because he himself was brainwashed by HIV Denialist and/or Dissidents.  Mbeki also claimed that his administration did not have the resources to send aide to all South Africans that were HIV positive. 
Motsoaledi stated that he has treated pregnant girls that range from ages 10 to 14 who were also HIV positive.  After he took office there were rates of infection that were first greater than 678,000 but climbed to 1.5 million.  In 2012 alone 260,000 perished from AIDS, about half of which were from South Africa.   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Justin's HIV Journal: Lifting Ban on HIV Organ Donating

Bans Bans Bans!!!  We have bans for a lot of things in this country, but one is about to be lifted.  The Senate Heath Education and Pensions Committee have approved the HOPE Act, also known as the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act.  The act would lift the federal ban on transplanting HIV positive organs to HIV positive recipients.

The HOPE Act would instruct the Department of Health and Human Service to make up a strategy to be about to transplant the HIV positive organs into HIV positive recipients.  This plan would decrease the wait time on people that were listed as HIV positive and negative.  Over 40 advocacy groups have endorsed this bill including the United Network for Organ Sharing. 

This could save over 1000 lives.  We lifted the ban of Don't Ask Don't Tell, HIV Organ Donating, etc.  Now we need to act on DOMA and the blood ban.  Which do you think will come first? And why?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Justin's HIV Journal: HIV Blogger Only 1 Year Older Than AIDS Discovery

I was able to dig up this clip from News Channel 9 on the anniversary of HIV a couple of years ago here is the story written in its entirety.  Thank you to Brittany Morehouse

WASHINGTON (WUSA) --  When Justin B. Smith was born, AIDS didn't even exist; now the video blogger is inspiring others with being an openly gay male who is HIV positive.

"It had not dawned on me it was the anniversary," said Smith.  "When I first heard that, I was like: 'Oh, 30 years... Oh my gosh...I'm 31; it's been as long as I've been alive.'"

While Smith contracted the virus in 2005, he remembers reading about Ryan White, the famous child with AIDS who wrote about about being publicly shamed because of the disease.  At the time he was 14, Smith said his mother told him his blood work was off and he immediately thought 'HIV.'

"My mother was like: 'No, you have high blood pressure.'" he said.  "I remember reading about Ryan White and thinking about how sad  it was he couldn't go to school and all the kids made fun of him.  Today, even though we have a lot of work still left to be done, we've come very far in education. We know that me touching someone is not going to give that person HIV."

Smith documents every major and minor detail of having HIV in a video journal.  It began as a blog.

"There are people out there living with HIV and everybody has their own journey," he said.  "My journey is different but I decided to put it in front of the camera because I have yet to see an African American gay male or anybody actually going to a doctor's visit, putting it on YouTube and letting thousands of people or even millions of people see firsthand what an HIV positive person goes through."

Now, he's published a children's book called "I have a secret."  It's about a young child like Ryan White who has HIV.

Now, some of the greatest responses he gets from his public profile come from people a couple decades older.  Many of them have lost half of their friends who died after contracting AIDS.

"I get a lot of attention from that generation saying thank you," he said.  "Thank you for doing this."