Tuesday, November 28, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006 - December 1st.

The Red Ribbon, started by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS ("UNAIDS") is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.

World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year and started by the
United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS in 1998 is dedicated to raising awareness of the global AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2005 of which, more than half a million (570,000) were children.

The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 United Nations World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.


On November 21, 2006 at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, the United Nations World Health Organization issued a frightening report that the global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there is concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining.

According to the
Commonwealth of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Human Services, Department for Public Health, HIV/AIDS Branch:

AIDS in Kentucky increased through 1995, but then dropped 40% from 1996 to 2000. This decline was partially due to advances in treatments for HIV and opportunistic infections. The treatments prolonged the lives of many patients as well as extended the time from HIV infection to AIDS progression.

In 2001, for the first time since 1995, an increase was observed in the Kentucky AIDS cases and has continued to increase steadily. 2005's numbers showed AIDS once again spiraling out of control with white homosexual males living in Lexington and Louisville being the primary cases in the commonwealth.

14% of homosexual males in Kentucky who have AIDS are aware of their status and continue to have sex with unknowing partners.
47% of HIV positive people are not aware of their status and continue to have multiple sexual partners.
Nearly 85% of all AIDS cases in the commonwealth are within the Bluegrass Region including Covington, Frankfort, Florence, Georgetown, Lexington, Louisville, Richmond, and Winchester.
76% of all Kentucky AIDS cases are between the ages of 24 - 43.

According to the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Branch, HIV is primarily spread through sexual contact with an infected person and by sharing contaminated syringes, needles, cotton, cookers, and other injecting drug use equipment with someone who is infected.

Information provided by the
Kentucky Department for Public Health, HIV/AIDS Branch:

- Free anonymous and confidential testing and counseling is available at every health department in Kentucky. After being infected with HIV, it takes between two weeks and six months before the test can detect the antibodies to the virus.

The Kentucky HIV/AIDS Branch urges everyone to get test if you:
- Have had sex with someone who has HIV.
- Have had sex with someone who has or has had any sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Have shared needles or syringes with someone who has HIV.
- Have had multiple sex partners or you have had sex with someone who has had multiple partners.
- Have had sex through prostitution (male or female).
- Have had sex with injecting drug users.
- Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
- Are a woman who is pregnant or desires to be pregnant and who wishes to reduce the chance of your baby getting HIV from you, should you be infected.

A person with AIDS is susceptible to certain infections and cancers. When a person with AIDS cannot fight off infections, this person becomes ill. Most people with AIDS will die as a result of their infection. AIDS is caused by a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV.

Early diagnosis of HIV infection is important! If you have been told you have HIV, you should get prompt medical treatment. In many cases, early treatment can enhance a person's ability to remain healthy as long as possible. Your doctor will help you determine the best treatment for you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving! More than 380 years ago, people who didn't even speak the same language came together in peace and fellowship to give thanks. Often we forget, or take for granted some of the simple rights and privileges we enjoy.

It is in the best tradition of both Kentucky and United States history however that we question our government and constantly place them "in-check" so they never forget who they truly work for: the citizens.

From the torture of heretics to the burning of witches, our history tells us we've come a long way. Though we continue to have a long fight in front of us, and a lot of progress needs to me made in other areas, let us concede for a moment how lucky we are to be citizens of this land.

Yesterday the
International Lesbian and Gay Association (Kentucky Equality Federation is an official member) released its annual survey of "Government in our Bedrooms." If you are searching for something to be thankful for, please click here to view their worldwide survey and see what our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters must endure in the most repressive governments of the world.

This is part of the reason the Executive Council of the
Kentucky Equality Federation has elected to remain uninvolved in any Black Friday activities related to Wal-Mart. As activists it is critical that we "pick and choose" the battles we engage; we remain committed to conserving our energy for the forthcoming battle(s) with the 2007 Kentucky House and Senate.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Richmond, KY Wal-Mart Protests; Conservative Christian Groups Victorious

A group of protestors converged earlier this week on the Wal-Mart in Richmond, KY to protest the company's fair and equal treatment of homosexuals. Wal-Mart has been under increasing pressure from conservative Christians, especially after they expanded their diversity program in a deal with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Kentucky Equality Federation's Alliance Manager, Clarence Wallace, began receiving reports about the protest within hours of its development. The Federation also received approximately 21 emails from concerned members and citizens.

In electronic communication with Wal-Mart's corporate offices, Kentucky Equality Federation General Counsel Paige D. Marks asked Wal-Mart for guidance about the prospect of counter demonstrations.

"It is disrespectful and un-American that protests are being held so close to Thanksgiving [and scheduled for Black Friday], a day we commemorate the feast held at Plymouth in 1621 by the Pilgrim colonists and members of the Wampanoag people and marked by the giving of thanks to God for harvest and health," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "It is also unreasonable to think that companies don't want to do business with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ("LGBT") community; our money is as green as anyone's."

However, Wal-Mart folded yesterday!

The American Family Association, which had been asking supporters to stay away from Wal-Mart on Friday and Saturday – two of the busiest shopping days of the year – said it was pleased by a statement the company issued Tuesday and withdrew its objections.

While stressing its commitment to diversity and equality, Wal-Mart said in its statement that it "will not make corporate contributions to support or oppose highly controversial issues unless they directly relate to our ability to serve our customers."

Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president of communications, said in a telephone interview that the company would continue working with the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and other gay-rights groups on specific issues such as workplace equality. "Going forward, we would partner with them on specific initiatives. ...As to opposed to just giving blanket support to their general operating budget," she said.

The corporate actions that had triggered the protest plans were little different from those taken by scores of major companies in recent years – Wal-Mart paid $25,000 this summer to become a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and donated $60,000 to Out and Equal, which promotes gay-rights advances in the workplace.

However, some conservative activists depicted Wal-Mart's engagement as endorsement of same-sex marriage and a pledge to give gay-owned businesses preferential treatment – assertions Wal-Mart denied in its statement Tuesday.

Conservative leaders had viewed Wal-Mart's actions as a betrayal of its own traditions, which have included efforts to weed out magazines with racy covers and CDs with explicit lyrics.

"This has been Christian families' favorite store – and now they're giving in, sliding down the slippery slope so many other corporations have gone down," said the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America. "They're all being extorted by the radical homosexual agenda."

Justin Nelson, president of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said earlier Tuesday that conservative activists had misrepresented his business-oriented group as a leading advocate of gay marriage in order to tarnish Wal-Mart.

"Their campaign has not been to educate, but to mislead," he said.

Tim Wildmon, the American Family Association's president, said Wal-Mart had been responsive to conservative pressure on a different issue, approving use of the word "Christmas" in advertising and employee greetings this season after shifting to a "happy holidays" phrasing last year.

Another major corporation, Ford Motor Co., already is the target of an American Family Association boycott because it advertises in gay publications and supports gay-rights groups.

The Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA says 550,000 people have signed a pledge to boycott Ford and it takes partial credit for the company's financial problems. Ford spokesman Oscar Suris declined comment; an industry analyst, University of Detroit professor Michael Bernacchi, was doubtful the boycott was having much impact.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Former Kentucky Gay Health Leader Murdered

Commonwealth of Kentucky -- Dr. Emery Lane, the former president of Community Health Trust, which focused on Louisville's LGBT community and People with AIDS has been found beaten to death in his home. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lane, 75, was found by his housekeeper. He had been beaten with a blunt instrument police said. Cash, other items and his Jaguar were stolen.

Police in the commonwealth's largest city arrested two men in connection with the murder.

Police have charged Gene Raymond Miller, 39, who they said knew Lane, and Bennett Shaw Bilbrey, 42, with murder, burglary, robbery and theft of Lane’s car, a Jaguar, according to Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell.

Mitchell, reading from the arrest report, said the two men “unlawfully entered” Lane’s home on University Avenue, assaulted Lane, who lived alone, with a blunt object and left with an undetermined amount of cash.

Dr. Emery Lane knew his accused killer well — he wrote to Gene Miller in prison and provided money to care for Miller’s children. “Emery had definitely provided for (Miller’s) family. They considered him like family,” said Ken Plotnik, Lane’s attorney and friend.

In 1996, before leaving Community Health Lane presided at the unveiling of an AIDS memorial. In an interview at the time with the Louisville Courier-Journal he said that "Gays and lesbians have been invisible."

"More times than not, they have been driven to live in the dark. Some did live in the open, but they were received in contempt. Some have tried to mask who they really are by getting married … This memorial honors those people," he told the paper.