Tag Archives: HIV+

Gay History – January 15, 1973: Remembering Lance Loud. America’s First OUT Gay Man On Television

Decades before Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto there was a young man named Lance Loud who brought gay awareness, lifestyle and culture to millions of homes across America at a time when it was unheard of.

On January 15, 1973 Lance Loud came out on the PBS “series” An American Family. He was the first person to come out on national television.

Am American Family” An American Family, was a 12-episode reality documentary series broadcast in 1973 on PBS. The directors, Alan and Susan Raymond, were the first to install cameras into a real-life situation. They documented hundreds of hours of the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. During the course of the filming, the marriage of Bill and Pat Loud imploded, they separated, and Pat filed for divorce. The documentary became a real-life soap opera and the progenitor of ”reality television,” in which private lives were captured for a national audience.

An American Family also delved into the lives of the Loud children, Delilah and Michele and brothers Kevin, Grant and oldest son Lance.

Lance was the first openly gay person depicted on television, and was shocking to an audience that had rarely witnessed frank portrayals of homosexuality on television. Lances scenes were of his true self, wearing blue lipstick, moving to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, and introducing his mother to the gay underground music and art world of transvestites, hustlers and types of  gritty New Yorker’s that were never seen on television before and made an American Family a groundbreaking series first. (In 2001 Pat Loud  stating that the family were all probably aware of Lance’s sexual orientation beforehand. )

After the show ended Lance remained in New York for 10 years living in a Lower East Side apartment writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and performing in a semi-successful rock band called the Mumps.

In 1981, Lance moved back to California, where he studied journalism. He was a regular contributor to such publications as the Advocate, Details and Interview. . He was a presence in Los Angeles’ gay community but shed his earlier flamboyance, saying he had “gone back into the closet; no more blue lipstick.” Over the years, he spent time working with animal rescue organizations.

Whenever “An American Family” was rebroadcast, Lance was cast back into the spotlight. A one-hour sequel, “An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later,” appeared on HBO in 1983. His mother reviled the original series, telling an interviewer once that she felt disgraced by it–”like letting your pants down in public.”

Lance himself always seemed puzzled by the notoriety accorded him by the series, which, he wryly observed, had “raised my family to the status of a recurring question on ‘Hollywood Squares.’

Four years later in 1987 Lance learned he had HIV.  He remained in good health except for occasional bouts with Hepatitis C  before his untimely death to AIDS

”It seemed like a medical miracle,” said friend Kristen Hoffman said. ”He just kept bouncing back.”

But in the end the years of partying and drug abuse took its toll..  After being told that his hepatitis C was now terminal  Lance wrote one last piece “a cautionary tale” about the health risks of his partying ways for The Advocate.

At the age of 50, Lance Loud passed away on December 22, 2001

As his final request, Lance wanted his parents to reunite. Bill and Pat honored his wish and are living together again.”

After Lance’s PBS presented  Lance Loud: Death in An American Family“>Lance Loud! A Death In An American Family, that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the original series broadcast and explored Lance’s legacy by looking back at scenes from the original documentary, examining the intervening years of Loud’s life and spending time with him in his final months.

Below is an interview Lance gave to Dick Cavett in 1973 after An American Family had aired.

The Advocate published Lance Loud’s final article after passing  in their January 22, 2002 issue.

Preface: Why Me?
What Did I Learn Last Year?

When The Advocate invited me to participate in its roundup of people sharing accomplishments in 2001, guilt bubbled right next to the pride I felt to be included in such an honor. Who was I to be included in an issue where everyone else presumably would be expounding about triumphs won over the past year? But my triumph came completely by coincidence. Like the recognition that had given me a voice in the public arena in the first place (I was in An American Family—PBS’s controversial 1973 TV documentary in which, still a teenager and more out of laziness than activism, I made no secret of my homosexuality, a “feat” considered brave at the time), this recognition is coming to me completely by accident.

And so I rationalized that in a sea of Advocate winners, some loser’s musings on his own mortality might just provide a fitting reflective glory to further flatter our issue’s winners. I don’t mind that; I am glad to help out. I have a lot in common with Lewis Carroll’s Alice (my favorite female literary heroine, besides Becky Sharp). I’ve been sent on a journey to places even bleach can’t reach. I know that I shall be very lucky indeed if Death looks like the Cheshire Cat, and even if I lose contact with my audience before his entrance, my audience—such as it is—will get as much death dirt as possible. I was, after all, a gossipy old pencil pusher in the bloom of health; no sense in letting that strong suit go.

So for a short part of this journey, you are there.

This year, you see, I not only got diagnosed with terminal hepatitis C but got checked into a local men’s hospice to await its final curtain. Though for years I had told myself that all my unbridled drinking, drugging, and unsafe sex were going to lead exactly here, I’d never really believed it.

But when the big showdown came, instead of laughing maniacally and swigging my tequila from one of my old Beatle boots, I had a response that was 180 degrees off. When I was told in the early summer that it was indeed just such outlaw ways that had been responsible for bringing me to my knees, I crumpled without any “damn the torpedoes” tribute to Billy the Kid or Bonnie and Clyde. I became a shadow, hunched over, round-eyed from fear, shuffling as I took my place in the long line of customers who are gathered here, part of a group with the same things in our mind, each of us grimly waiting to be served.

The bulk of my learning—if I may call it such—has come within the past three months, after I became a part of the fragile body of patients who make up an AIDS hospice. Here, surrounded by teams of supportive nurses, attentive doctors, and interns, one gently comes upon his own strengths and shortcomings.

So what was my “triumph” this past year? As with my “feat” on An American Family, I was, once again, merely myself. But over the course of 2001, my dormant hepatitis C and my HIV—both “silent partners” in governing my health till now—suddenly decided to step out from behind the curtain and take the spotlight. Check out uridine monophosphate for more information. I lived 18 years with HIV and 10 with hep C with very little more than a fleeting case of thrush. Now I find myself in a hospice with a limited-time warranty on my life.

“Dubious achievement,” anyone? Till now, yes. But the hep C–HIV numbers among gay men and women look to be far larger than originally expected and are rising every day. The fact that many gay men who carry the dual diagnosis are feeling fairly great, not feeling or showing signs of illness thanks to their drug cocktails or gym regimens, misleads many of those infected. I don’t know if hep C is called “the quiet killer,” but it easily could be, so unnoticeably does it nestle into your body before crankin’ up the screws and letting you race to figure out what’s going on.

Now I’m asked to put pen to paper and, in so many words, take you on a brief tour of the Rabbit’s hole that is swallowing me up. A peep into my own private dying process and what I’ve noticed over the past year as my surroundings get curiouser and curiouser. It’s not wild, but it is mysterious, and you’ll encounter some of the strangest thoughts en route to the main tunnel going straight down.
My “accomplishment” of being one of the first wave of gays to deal with the messy last stages of this dreary road to death speaks for itself. Despite this writer’s basic clumsiness and dull-wittedness, I will now tell the tale. Let’s break my list of “accomplishments” down into the four seasons, shall we? Think of it as a cautionary tale.

Part I: Winter ’01
Is There a Michelin Man in My Family Tree, or What?

Last winter, ’01, was typical of any year in recent times for me. Six years earlier, my gig writing a regular column for The Advocate had to, regretfully, be put out to pasture thanks to a full-time career as a crystal addict. I’d finally rehabbed from the drugs and drink, and I was a lonely hermit, presiding over my nine stray cats in a small one-room kingdom on a hillside in Los Angeles’s Echo Park, where I took many naps and read English rock magazines. I was not in great health—big shock. But I was feeling well enough to still say yes when a girlfriend asked me to accompany her to the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the spring to move her 18-year-old son for summer break.

Shortly after the three of us set upon his dorm room to dismantle it, a small but sharp twinge of pain registered just under my left kneecap. And it would not stop. In fact, it got worse. For the duration of the weekend and through the trip home, it got worse and worse. Damn my friend, I said to myself as it throbbed away. How could she have forced me into so much work? But on returning to L.A. and going to the doctor that following Monday, I found out it had little to do with a twisted knee. It was a septic infection that had settled under my left knee. But I still believed I was invincible and continued my old lifestyle.

However, it was only a couple of days later that I awoke one afternoon in Cedars-Sinai hospital. I don’t know how the day started out, but I had been found in a mud puddle near Echo Park Lake at 4:30 in the morning. At the hospital, I had accosted the nurses and doctors. I ripped out the I.V. needles leading into both my arms. Blood. More blood. Then there was my left leg. Sometime during the previous 48 hours, it had swollen to at least four sizes larger than the right one. The skin was shiny and tight. God was partway through inventing a new Pokémon—me. Though doctors told me I should stay in the hospital, I was having none of it. I returned home; me, the cats, and my little wooden house in the wilds of Echo Park. Ready to stick it out to the bitter end, little did I know, in terms of my domestic setup, that finality was about as close as the nearest Starbucks.

Part II: The Summer of My Incontinence.

Actually, bona fide incontinence waited until fall to make itself known. Still, as we passed the halfway mark of the year, I was not without plenty of disillusion. But as we crawled toward that final quarter of the year, waves of human degradation began breaking over my body. Daily bouts of catastrophic diarrhea suggested my intestinal tract was undergoing some sort of Chernobylish meltdown. My belly—for that is the only word with which to adequately describe my stomach—had grown taut as a kettle drum. My leg was now not only swollen and unusable but had developed a needles-and-pins sensitivity that completely obscured any other feeling. While my leg still tingled constantly in a most uncomfortable manner, I could be standing on a tack and not notice it. All this plus the fact that it seemed I was now racing to the hospital every couple of weeks for a six-hour transfusion session to replace the blood my body was not replenishing. This was leaving large gaps in my energy and hollows where my cheeks had once been. I was, in short, beginning to look a little like a WeHo version of the Crypt Keeper. After a few haunted weeks spent lurking between the sheets in my mother’s bedroom, it was decided to get me back into the hospital.

Part III: Waiting, waiting, waiting…

I thus spent August and part of September in hospital rooms about town. Perhaps there is no agony worse than the tedium I then experienced waiting for Something to Happen. I should say that when you’ve grown sick of reading and bug-eyed from watching TV, when your friends are all visited out and there’s nothing else to do, no words can adequately praise the link to the outside world provided by your parents and family. I was going insane. There was no exact diagnosis. The unspoken one, everyone knew.

Suddenly…news. Word came along the hospital jungle that they were booting me out. With the newfound gusto that a minimum-wage earner gets shortly before his work day ends and his allotted amount of work still remains to be finished, I was packed up and told I had to find myself a rest home to stay in. They did not tell me what was wrong or what could be done about it. Suffice it to say that this did not give me much hope.

Part IV: Revelations, Anyone?

You know those people who tell you they’ve forgotten how to cry and that they can’t anymore? I was one of them—until I crash-landed at the Carl Bean hospice facility on the northern tip of south-central L.A. It’s not because the facility is bad—on the contrary. The food is the best I’ve had in an institution—and believe me, by the end of the summer I had become quite the hospital food gourmand. The nursing and doctoring staff? No words can do justice to their efficiency, thoroughness, and all-around human compassion above and beyond the call of duty.

But what I learned in this situation is how easy it is for me to cry. Having been one of those who didn’t cry at anything, I am now faced with mortality, finding myself on a deserted beach on the brink of a saline washout. And forget about my family; just a sidelong look at my mom while visiting her home and watching her prepare dinner struck a gusher. Or my giving a toast at a dinner for my brother and sister: Halfway through, yours truly simply kidnapped the situation by bursting into a massive crying jag that left my sisters frozen, silent, and with two long tear-stained trails on their cheeks. Definitely not the most generous move to inaugurate a “happy occasion.”

Epilogue: This is the end, my friend

I recently read that “a sentence of death concentrates the mind wonderfully.” True, but you’ve got to be able to excuse yourself from what you can and can’t concentrate on. Beware flights of fancy. Surely it sounds great to finally envision the perfect rock band, the script that is right in front of your nose, the inevitable volume of memories that the world must see.

And you must be prepared to handle those “What to do?” moments. My doctor told my already-hysterical mother, “Pat, you’ve got to face it. You’re going to outlive Lance, so you may as well get prepared!” Neither of us felt good about that moment. Or the fight between friends when a dear pal blurted out to me that he’d speak well of me at my wake.

When will it happen? That’s certainly got to be number 1 on the most-often-asked-questions-of-myself list that I usually break out at 4:12 a.m., when no one’s around to answer. All I can hear is my own breath pulling like cotton through my nostrils. Now that I’ve gotten up enough nerve to ask the kindly doctors and nursing staff for some illumination, most likely they’ll turn such queries back on me, asking how long I think I’m going to live or telling me it’s all relative.

Still, I got the truth, though it came in a variety of vague replies. And the truth was not pleasant. After the question “Am I dying?” was met with responses that ranged from “What do you think?” to “Lance, everybody dies sooner or later,” salty tears were running down my cheeks.

Such attempts on my part to sleuth out a departure date are suddenly replaced by one of the staff breezily telling me that my liver has completely stopped operating. The ammonia now racing around in my body (which must be urine, though I haven’t got the nerve to clarify that salient point) is causing me to have memory lapses, and by that time I’m about ready to get back to discussing the food, the weather, anything, as long as it is superficial.

Oh, yes, it has been a year full of dark revelations, but without the fame or glory that might help offer someone else some little shred of solace if they are on the same road.

Lance Loud was a TRUE gay hero and icon and he should always be remembered.

Gay History – Remembering Bisexual Actor Brad Davis Who Fought For Work and Dignity While Battling AIDS

Actor Brad Davis: –  Born Robert Davis on this day November 6th, 1949 to Eugene Davis (a dentist from Beverly Hills whose career declined due to alcoholism) and his wife, Anne (née Creel) Davis. According to an article in The New York Times published in 1987, Davis suffered both physical abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of both parents. As an adult, he was an alcoholic and an intravenous drug user before becoming sober in 1981.  Brad Davis took his stage name after learning that there already was a Bob Davis registered in Actors Equity. Acting was always his ambition, from appearing in productions at Theater Atlanta at the age of sixteen, and moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and at the American Place Theater. Television roles soon followed, in a short-lived soap opera and in the miniseries Roots and Sybil (both 1976). But it was his role as Billy Hayes in the film Midnight Express which rocketed him to fame and won him two Golden Globes.

Davis’s career should have taken off. Instead, it languished, due somewhat to homophobia — his bisexuality was generally known if not always acknowledged — and more directly due to his own drug and alcohol abuse. In 1976, he was cast in the television mini-series Roots, then as Sally Field’s love interest in the television film Sybil. In 1981 he sobered in time to take a minor role in Chariots of Fire he played American track star Jackson Scholz in the Academy Award winning film Chariots of Fire. . In 1983, he took a professional risk playing a gay sailor in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Querelle (which flopped), and a dying man of AIDS in Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart.  That last role mirrored, somewhat, his own life.

Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, Davis kept his condition a secret until shortly before his death at age 41,  in order to be able to continue to work and support his family.

His wife, freelance casting director Susan Bluestein said: “The Hollywood community may deny it. They will say he could have worked. All I know is that my husband was frightened, and that he wanted to be able to keep putting food on our table for his family,”

Davis was going to write a book about his ordeal of working in Hollywood and having to keep secret his illness. While he died before he could accomplish that his wife did write a book using Davis’ book proposal as the basis for her book, After Midnight: The Life and Death of Brad Davis.

”I make my money in an industry that professes to care very much about the fight against AIDS — that gives umpteem benefits and charity affairs with proceeds going to research and care — but in actual fact, if an actor is even rumored to have H.I.V., he gets no support on an individual basis. He does not work.”

In a 1997 interview with New York Times writer Alex Witchel, Davis’ wife described the great pains he went to seeking medical help only allowing doctors to visit him at home, ”Without the secrecy he may not have gotten better medical care, but earlier medical care,” she said. ”It might have given him a little longer time and better quality of life. We became so isolated. He let a lot of friendships go. He was afraid certain people would pick up on some things. Our world shrank to the bare bones.” In order to hide his illness Witchel wrote that Davis didn’t buy prescriptions in his name but was supplied with prescription “leftovers” from others after they died.

When Brad Davis died on September 8, 1991,  news reports distinguished him as “the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS.” Not much of that description was true. His bi-exuality aside, he didn’t, strictly speaking, die of AIDS. Davis decided to end his life on his own terms by committing suicide by drug overdose when it became clear that his death from AIDS was imminent.

FDA Reduces Restrictions On Gay Male Blood Donors, Continues Stigmatization

FDA Reduces Restrictions On Gay Male Blood Donors, Continues Stigmatization

Via NBC News:

Amid what it’s calling an “urgent need for blood,” the FDA revised its blood donor guidelines on Thursday, significantly easing the restrictions on men who have sex with men.

The new guidelines reduce the donation deferral period for sexually active gay and bisexual men from 12 months to three, meaning these otherwise healthy men will now have to abstain from same-sex sexual activity for 90 days before they are eligible to donate blood.

Other 12-month deferral periods have also been shortened under the new guidelines, including those for people who have traveled to areas with certain endemic diseases, those who have engaged in injection drug use and people who have participated in commercial sex work.

Under a regulation change in 2015, gay and bisexual had to refrain from sex for a year before they are permitted to donate blood.  This replaced a former 1983 ruling that stated gay and bisexual men could not donate at all which was leftover from the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when little was known about the disease or how to test for it.

The continued stigmatization of gay male blood donors in the 21st century is uncalled for and needlessly cruel especially since in this terrible time since all blood donations are screened for tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and HTLV (human T-lymphotropic virus), which can cause a blood or nerve disease.

PA Man Sues U.S. Postal Service For Being Fired Because He Is Gay

PA Man Sues U.S. Postal Service For Being Fired Because He Is Gay

A former postal worker identified as John Doe to protect himself from retribution, filed a lawsuit on Friday in federal court alleging that he was discriminated against and subjected to harassment at the hands of his co-worker and was fired from his job because he’s gay.

Via MetroWeekly:

The lawsuit claims Doe was a letter carrier in Hanover Township, Pa., for the U.S. Postal Service for 12 years before he was fired on Aug. 19.

According to the lawsuit, one of his co-workers relayed several gay slurs used by co-workers to describe Doe, including a “sick faggot.” Another worker called him “Glinda,” a reference to the “Good Witch” from The Wizard of Oz. Still other co-workers complained that his shorts were too tight. And one supervisor allegedly said, “I fucking swear to God I’m gonna get his ass fired.”

According to the lawsuit, the mailman was fired for allegedly kicking a co-worker, Lisa Williams. Doe claims Williams lied about the incident. He was charged with harassment for the alleged incident, but the charge was dismissed. 

After he was fired, another co-worker told Doe that Williams said “I’m so glad they finally got rid of that fruitcake.”

Williams waited four to six days before reporting the kicking incident to police. Supervisors then waited 40 days after the alleged incident before conducting a pre-disciplinary interview with the letter carrier and waited 53 days before issuing a “notice of removal.”

“Defendants acceded to Ms. Williams’ discriminatory bias and hate by wrongfully terminating Doe,” the lawsuit claims.

John Doe is asking to be reinstated in his job and be paid for the time since he was terminated, as well as damages for pain, suffering, and embarrassment suffered as a result of his firing. Dow who is HIV+ has fallen into a deep depression , because without his employment and insurance it’s unclear how he’ll be able to pay for medication and medical care to manage his condition.

It is unknown whether or not his co-workers or employer knew about his HIV status.

Facebook Refuses To Remove Ads Promoting Misinformation About HIV Prevention Drugs

Facebook Refuses To Remove Ads Promoting Misinformation About HIV Prevention Drugs

Facebook feeds have been inundated with misleading ads containing false information about HIV prevention and LGBT advocates, are saying that the tone-deaf tech giant’s refusal to remove the content is creating a public-health crisis.

The paid ads have been viewed millions of times in recent months, They’ve scared patients, potentially those who may be most at risk of contracting HIV, out of taking preventative drugs, known as PrEP, even though health officials and federal regulators have said they are safe.

The ads many of which have been purchased by personal-injury lawyers allege in lawsuits that HIV medications, such as Truvada, actually threaten patients with serious side effects. LGBT groups that work with Facebook say the ads are “false” and have urged Facebook for months to take them down— and Facebook refuses stating that the ads do not violate its policies.

“We value our work with LGBT groups and constantly seek their input,” said Facebook spokeswoman Devon Kearns said in a statement. “While these ads do not violate our ad policies nor have they been rated false by third-party fact-checkers, we’re always examining ways to improve and help these key groups better understand how we apply our policies.”

Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the ads, which he has seen on his own Facebook feed, threaten to undo years of work to promote a drug that can cut down on the transmission of HIV and potentially save lives.

“I still see patients,” Daskalakis said. “Four of my seven PrEP patients came in and said, ‘How could you be putting me on this medication that’s so unsafe? My Instagram ads say so.’”

Despite the fact that health officials and federal regulators have said that the HIV prevention drugs are safe personal-injury lawyers claiming to represent thousands of HIV patients say the data actually are on their side — and that they have a role in informing patients about the risks in medication.

“These Facebook ads provide a service to let them know there are options available for them now,” said Robert Jenner, the co-lead counsel in the consolidated lawsuit.

Ex-Wales Rugby Captain Gareth Thomas Reveals He Has HIV

Ex-Wales Rugby Captain Gareth Thomas Reveals He Has HIV

Image result for gareth thomas

Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas who came out as gay in December 2009 has revealed he is HIV positive, saying he wants to “break the stigma” around the condition.

Thomas says he wants to show how people with HIV are misrepresented as “walking around with walking sticks who are close to dying”.

He has also spoken about “shame” and “fear” of keeping his condition secret.

The ex-British and Irish Lion is due to talk about his diagnosis in a BBC Wales documentary on Wednesday.

In it, he says at his lowest point in 2018 he felt like dying.

Thomas said revealing that he is living with HIV was similar to coming out as gay in 2009 because of “the fear, the hiding, the secrecy, the not knowing how people are going to react”.

“But I think when it was all about my sexuality it just seemed like there was more empathy and more understanding because you had more knowledge, because you could turn on the telly and you could see that there was LGBT representation on most platforms.”

Thomas plans to take part in an Ironman challenge on Sunday, which has involved him learning to swim, were to Thomas a way of demonstrating his physical and mental strength.

New HIV Study Shows With Treatment There Is 'Zero Risk' of Transmission

New HIV Study Shows With Treatment There Is ‘Zero Risk’ of Transmission

A new study which followed nearly 1,000 gay male couples in The Lancet has found that due to treatment reducing the AIDS virus to very low levels there were no cases of HIV transmission in that subject group for over eight years.

The European study followed 972 gay male couples – where one was living with HIV and taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the other was HIV negative –

Antiretroviral therapy is combination of drugs, to be taken daily, to stop HIV replicating in the body.

It can’t cure HIV, but it can reduce the amount of virus to undetectable levels in the blood..

In total, the couples in the study reported having anal sex without condoms a total of 76,088 times. 

“Our findings provide conclusive evidence that the risk of HIV transmission through anal sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero,” the researchers said.

Prof Alison Rodger, study author and professor of infectious diseases at University College London, said anal sex was known to have the highest risk of transmission, but gay men should now be reassured.

“This powerful message can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people with HIV face.”

In the study, the men with HIV had been taking antiretroviral therapy for an average of four years before it began, making the virus undetectable – defined as fewer than 200 copies per ml of blood.

Most people reach this level after taking daily HIV treatment for six months.

Dr Michael Brady, medical director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The study has given us the confidence to say, without doubt, that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners.

“This has incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma.

Source: BBC News

DNC Responds to Trump’s 22% CUT in AIDS Funding

Today, the White House released Trump’s latest budget proposal, which included a  22 percent cut in funding for PEPFAR, a program to treat and fight HIV/AIDS across the globe. In response, DNC LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta issued the following statement:

“Trump’s proposed cut to PEPFAR is just the latest indicator that he has no real intention of making the investments necessary to combat HIV/AIDS. Further, Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, totaling more than $1 trillion, would limit the ability of HIV+ people to afford and attain the lifesaving medicine and treatment they need.

“HIV+ people around the world and at here in the U.S. deserve more than lip-service and empty rhetoric.”

Here’s Trump’s real record on HIV/AIDS:

FACT: Trump celebrated a court ruling in favor of a lawsuit he backed to overturn the ACA, endangering coverage for around 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, such as HIV/AIDS.

CBS News: “Around 130 million people in the United States have pre-existing conditions, and without the ACA, insurers would no longer be required to cover those conditions.”

Vox: “To put it simply, the ACA was a ‘watershed moment in the [HIV] epidemic’s history,’ as the Kaiser Family Foundation’s director of global health and HIV policy, Jennifer Kates, told me in 2017. The law was designed to get more people access to health care, including those who were traditionally denied coverage because of ‘preexisting conditions’ like HIV, or who were driven out of the marketplace because their health care was unaffordable. And so under the law, the disease was no longer a barrier to health insurance.”

FACT: The Department of Health and Human Services proposed new rules to eliminate requirements that insurance plans for Medicare beneficiaries cover prescription drugs in “protected classes,” such as HIV/AIDS.

“The Trump administration proposal is bad medicine and dangerous to people living with H.I.V.,” said Carl E. Schmid II, the deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, a public policy and advocacy organization for patients. “Not all H.I.V. medications are the same. The Medicare Part D program is working well for people with H.I.V., and there is no reason to take these draconian actions.”

FACT: The Department of Health and Human Services redirected money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to help fund the separation of immigrant families.

POZ: “Trump Agency Is Using Federal HIV Funds to Separate Immigrant Families”

FACT: United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar created a “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division,” giving health care providers the ability to refuse treatment to LGBTQ people if they have a “moral objection.”

HIV+ Magazine: “In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom under the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). This division was created following a 2017 executive order by President Trump directing agencies to expand religious freedom protections in ways that could increase discrimination against LGBT individuals and same-sex couples.”

CDC: “Gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV in the United States. In 2016, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of the 40,324 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas. Approximately 492,000 sexually active gay and bisexual men are at high risk for HIV”

FACT: Vice President Mike Pence, while governor of Indiana, opposed a needle exchange program and exacerbated the local HIV/AIDS crisis.

Politico: “But when confronted with a spiraling HIV outbreak in his home state as a result of opioid addicts sharing contaminated needles, Pence dragged his feet…”

FACT: Trump’s Department of Defense instituted a “Deploy or Get Out” policy, which would remove HIV+ military personnel from service solely because of their status.

Washington Post: “They tested positive for HIV. Then the military kicked them out.”

Sergeant Nick Harrison, an 18-year veteran of both Afghanistan and Kuwait: “This is about every person living with HIV knowing that they can perform any job in the world, including serving in the military […] I look forward to the day that I can serve my country to the full extent of my abilities, based on my performance and unfettered by unfounded fears and misperceptions about HIV.”

Third Man "Cured" of HIV/AIDS in Germany

BREAKING: Third Man “Cured” of HIV/AIDS in Germany

Announced at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday, a man in Germany, known only as “the Düsseldorf patient once living with HIV appears to be free of the virus following a medical procedure intended to treat cancer.

He is the third man to become HIV -free.

A man known as the “Berlin patient” was the first person to become HIV-free after cancer treatment, back in 2007. To treat his leukemia – a cancer of the immune system – he was given a treatment that involved killing nearly all his immune cells with radiotherapy or drugs, and then replacing them with cells from a donor. This donor was naturally resistant to HIV, thanks to a rare but natural mutation in a gene called CCR5.

On Monday (March 4), researchers announced that a U.K. man — known as the “London patient” — was HIV-free following a bone marrow transplant. The London patient was then the only the second person ever reported to experience long-term remission from the virus without the need for medication

Researchers are tracking the few other people who have HIV and have then had a bone marrow transplant from someone with the CCR5 mutation in a collaboration called IciStem. As well as the three reported so far, there are two others who haven’t yet stopped taking antiviral medications, says Javier Martinez-Picado of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona.

Unfortunately one marrow transplants can’t be used for people with HIV who don’t have cancer, because they carry considerable risks and are only used as a last resort. But the fact that the approach seems to work could point the way to other strategies for a cure. Bit one possible method might be to use gene editing to mutate the CCR5 gene in a person’s own immune cells.

Dare we hope and dream.

The Ghosts of Saint Vincent’s Hospital: Ground Zero For New York City’s AIDS Epidemic

Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers  or just, “St. Vinny’s” as the locals called it was located on 12th and 13th Street and 7th/Greenwich Avenue in NYC.  At one time St. Vincent’s was the 3rd oldest hospital in New York City after The New York Hospital and Bellevue Hospital.   It was founded as a medical facility in 1849; and named for St. Vincent de Paul. The hospital was started by the Sisters of Charity by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who went to New York City to set up a charity hospital in the city to meet the demands of the poor and disadvantaged

St. Vincent’s served the poor as one of the few charity hospitals in New York City and admitted patients regardless of religion or ability to pay.  For more than 150 years St. Vincent’s  was a beacon in Greenwich Village, serving poets, writers, artists, and the poor and the working-class. It treated victims of the cholera epidemic of 1849, to the Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549.

St. Vincent’s Hospital never strayed from its core mission to provide care with respect, compassion and dignity for the poor and displaced members of society and in 1981 when a mysterious disease began affecting gay men in New York City St Vincent’s stood strong to their mission.  While many other hospitals turned patients away St. Vincent’s took them in and treated and diagnosed some of the first known cases of what would eventually become known as AIDS.

St. Vincent’s was the epicenter of New York City’s AIDS epidemic. It housed the first and largest AIDS ward on the east coast and was “ground zero” for one of the worst events to happen in gay history.

Dr. Dennis Greenbaum, Chairman of Medicine at St. Vincent’s, had been with the hospital for 42 years.  He saw the horror that HIV/AIDS wrought in the early days. “We didn’t know how to protect ourselves.  The ICU would be filled with crying families,” Greenbaum says. “There were funerals every week. I used to live on 13th Street. I had four next-door neighbors who lived in a huge loft and all of them died. I used to go to a lot of  funerals. Then we lost our own doctors. We lost the chiefs of our HIV program”

During the height of the epidemic the flood of patients was so extreme, every available bed was taken and patients spilled out into the hallways, then throughout the surrounding corridors, where masking tape marked off virtual rooms.

Sal Licata, a city AIDS specialist, spent his last days at H-01 (H for “Hallway”), waiting in vain for a room to die in. A few feet down the hall was pneumonia-weakened Aldyn McKean, his old friend, a hero of ACT UP.  If you knew one patient at the hospital, you likely knew others.

Thousands of people, mostly gay men died or were treated at St. Vincent’s for HIV/AIDS; and many more passed through to visit sick partners, friends and family members.  Although there were other important AIDS wards and treatment centers in New York City, none treated patients with the caring, and human compassion that St. Vincent’s did.

St. Vincent’s Hospital went bankrupt in April 2010 and closed it doors forever. For anyone familiar with that time news of St. Vincent’s demise was hard to accept.  St. Vincent’s was a standing memorial to HIV victims and the memories of friends and family.

The former hospital campus after a long battle are now luxury condominium. But that bland building along Seventh Avenue will always hold a place in the geography of the plague called AIDS.  It’s our ground zero, a museum of memories, a place haunted.  We see the ghosts as we pass there even now, we hear their voices, and their last words. Memories of those who vanished from those rooms and our lives forever.  And no matter how they changed the buildings they will always stand as a memorial to courage, compassion and dignity of those who were once within its walls/