Who’s Missing from the Global AIDS Conference?

Every other year, AIDS activists everywhere travel far and wide to attend the International AIDS Conference, pushing for access to HIV prevention and treatment for all. The conference hasn’t been in the U.S. for eons, because back in the 80s, a widely reviled individual named Senator Jesse Helms made sure that anyone living with HIV could not enter the country. Two years ago, the HIV travel ban was lifted, and this year, the conference will be in the U.S — in Washington, DC from July 22 to 27.

But this country is still excluding countless people living with HIV.

When people from other countries apply to enter the U.S., even just to attend a conference, they must answer these 2 questions:

  1. Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or drug addict?
  2. Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?

If you know how it is that we humans get HIV, you know that drug use and sex work are among the ways. Why talk about fighting a disease without the people who are dealing with it? This policy cuts out a massive number of people around the world who are living with HIV or at risk for HIV, including those working in the field and organizing for an end to this disease, from going to the International AIDS Conference. In response, drug users and sex workers and their allies around the world have set up hivhumanrightsnow.org to educate the world one blog entry at a time. Drug users and people living with HIV in Eastern Europe will have their own conference in Kiev to strategize the fight against AIDS. Sex workers and their allies will meet in Kolkata.

Tune in to @HIVhumanRIGHTS for tweets from sex workers, drug users and their allies about what the world needs to do to fight AIDS, and keep checking the blog at hivhumanrightsnow.org for inspiring updates.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under criminalization of HIV, Drug users' rights, Europe, harm reduction, immigration/migration, India, people with AIDS in leadership, Russia, sex workers' rights, stigma

Prison Health News: Spring 2012 Issue!

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

ImagePrison Health News is a print newsletter read by about 5,000 people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.

Prison Health News is a project of the HIV/AIDS services organization Philadelphia FIGHT. Volunteers answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information.

To help distribute Prison Health News, contact:

Institute for Community Justice, Philadelphia FIGHT
21 S. 12th Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Office: 215.525.0460
Fax: 215.525.0461

Instructions for printing Prison Health News on your home printer:

1. Download the printable version here.

2. Use Letter size (8 1/2 x 11) paper. Make sure that the printer is not set to reduce, or “scale” the document. On my Mac in Preview, I go under “File” and click on “Page Setup,” then make sure “Scale” is set to 100%. I don’t think it’s much different for other computers and programs.

3. In the printing options, select “Odd pages only.” Press print.

4. Half of the pamphlet will print. After it finishes printing, take the whole pile, flip it over, and insert it back into the printer. It usually has to be flipped over lengthwise, but you might want to make sure by using a test page.

5. In the printing options, select “Even pages only” and press print.

2 Comments

Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, criminalization of HIV, disaster capitalism, police repression, prison, stigma, treatment access, Uncategorized

Why AIDS Activists Occupy Wall Street — and How to Get Involved!

In 2008, as the stock market crashed and Congress prepared to give trillions of tax dollars to the banks, I desperately emailed all my AIDS activist friends: “We’ve got to stop this bailout! There will be no money for Obama to do anything for our communities.” I felt like a nay-saying bore for endlessly harping that getting politicians to expand their campaign promises is a losing strategy, because politicians lie, and only ending capitalism will shift power and priorities toward health. But when Occupy Wall Street protesters started camping out in lower Manhattan last September, chanting, “All day! All week!” and never leaving, the AIDS movement lost no time in recalling its birth in ACT UP New York, which brought the stock exchange to a screeching halt one day during a protest against price-gouging AZT (watch this thrilling interview with Peter Staley describing the 1987 action or read this recent interview with Douglas Crimp). AIDS activists got involved in OWS immediately, to the great benefit of both movements.

Occupy Pharma!

The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance intends to seize the bull by the horns this year, putting “generic drugs and drastic price reductions at the top of the agenda for the domestic HIV/AIDS movement in 2012, moving beyond the ADAP waiting lists to insist on treatment on demand for all.” Alright, PJA! (Read the PJA Action Agenda here). With this kind of vision, the campaign should attract tons of new activists and enliven the rest of us (Join a PJA working group here).

Targeting Big Pharma is not just the most direct route to the root of the problem — the exorbitant profits made at the expense of access to lifesaving treatment. It’s also a way out of the trap of merely resisting the budget cuts that have wracked our communities, or demanding more funding from a government that cares more about banks and corporations than human beings. Led by ACT UP Basel, Switzerland, the current AIDS activist campaign against Novartis is an inspiring example. Why focus all our attention on getting presidents to pledge more tax money for pricey patented meds in developing countries, when we can get generics for all if we keep fighting for them? Novartis sues India to stop making generics for the world: activists occupy Novartis offices in 3 cities during a global day of action. Bam. Let’s build on this! Last week, India issued a rare compulsory license to allow generic production of a Bayer anti-cancer drug, which will save many lives and also bring more Big Pharma pressure to bear on the country. Our voices are needed.

And just before May Day — when occupiers everywhere call on the 99% to carry out a People’s General Strike — ACT UP New York will return to Wall Street for its 25th anniversary action.

Image

How AIDS Activists Have Occupied Since September

This year’s actions should be fierce, building on the strength of last fall. AIDS activists didn’t sit around wondering if the new 99% movement would invisibilize AIDS, they stepped up to build a true, strong unity that appreciates the strengths that difference offers. A complex unity, as envisioned by revered anti-prison activist Angela Davis, who spoke of the convergence of single-issue movements at Occupy Philly in October. AIDS activists passed out this excellent flier from Housing Works at #OWS to educate occupiers and link the issues.

Andrew Coamey, a Housing Works senior vice prez, penned “Why I Occupied Wall Street” to inspire others to take the plunge. After a gay, HIV positive AIDS activist was punched by a New York police official at an #OWS protest, even more outraged AIDS activists marched with the new movement (see video of police official punching AIDS activist Felix Rivera-Pitre here). After participating in the #OWS global day of action in November, AIDS activists staged a sit-in dressed as Robin Hoods on World AIDS Day, demanding a financial transaction tax to fund the fight against AIDS locally and globally (see video and photos here).

More than 20 cities participated in the Occupy our Homes day of action in December. AIDS activists at VOCAL helped lead the occupation of a home in Brooklyn, where predatory lending and foreclosures have thrown many families onto the street, and helped a homeless family move in (watch this incredibly inspiring video). As longtime AIDS activist Sean Barry said to The Raw Story in an article about the action, “We’re here because [there are] a lot of empty buildings owned by Wall Street banks and we’re going to liberate them.”

As the AIDS movement returns to its rabble-rousing roots, it’s up to us to tell the story of the early days of our movement, as Douglas Crimp’s recent Atlantic Monthly piece on the 1988 activist takeover of the Food and Drug Administration does.

As for myself, I spent a few months last fall shirking any form of paid work, spending my time making videos for Occupy Philly Media and working on Prison Health News. Now, I’m working full-time as a copy editor for a medical publisher to catch up on my rent. But this blog is still on! See you in cyberspace….

1 Comment

Filed under displacement and gentrification, Drug users' rights, economic justice, housing, New York City, police repression, revolutionary strategies, treatment access, Uncategorized

Support a vital work-in-progress, and stop criminalization of people living with HIV!

Click here for more information about the documentary — and to make a donation and become part of bringing this desperately needed project to fruition.

2 Comments

Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, criminalization of HIV, gay and bisexual men, police repression, prison, sex workers' rights, stigma

Prison Health News: Winter 2012 Issue Out Now!

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

This issue’s got

  • Why Are So Many People Incarcerated in the U.S.? by Waheedah Shabazz-El
  • The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement by Tina Reynolds
  • Prison Food: The 411 of Navigating the System by Tré Alexander
  • Reach the Light by Kyle
  • How to Obtain Your GED While in Prison or Out by Stanley J
  • Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating MRSA by Ronda B, Suzy S, Bernard T, and Naseem B

plus, addresses in different regions of the U.S. to write for Advocacy and Support Resources and Informational Resources!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by 2,500+ people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV, and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, economic justice, Philadelphia, police repression, prison, treatment access

Prison Health News: Summer 2011 Issue Out Now!

We finally finished the Summer issue of Prison Health News — with vital information that is right on time for people in prisons and jails around the country.

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

This issue’s got

  • Beat Stress with Dahn Yoga Meditation by Teresa Sullivan
  • Fasting for Human Rights in the Secure Housing Units of California by Suzy Subways
  • How HIV Meds Work, Part II: An Update on HIV Drug Classes by Hannah Zellman
  • The Society for Employment and Equal Rights by George N. Murray
  • Free Your Mind by Angelo Johnson

plus, addresses in different regions of the U.S. to write for Advocacy and Support Resources and Informational Resources!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by 2,500+ people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV, and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.

Prison Health News is a project of Reaching Out: A Support Group with Action and the Institute for Community Justice, which are based at the HIV/AIDS services organization Philadelphia FIGHT. Volunteers at the AIDS Library (also at FIGHT) answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, California, economic justice, Philadelphia, prison

Thousands on Hunger Strike in CA Prisons: Their List of Demands

If you haven’t heard yet about the massive hunger strike in California’s isolation units, read up on what it’s all about below, as reprinted from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity blog. It was planned for months in advance by people imprisoned at Pelican Bay, and thousands of others imprisoned around California have joined in. At least 400 at Pelican Bay have gone without food for 3 weeks now, and many are willing to die for what is right: basic demands including access to sunlight, nutritious food, and humane medical care. Dozens of health care workers wrote a letter responding to reports that hunger strikers have been denied treatment that they had been receiving before the strike and that prison officials have not followed their own medical policy to care for prisoners refusing food.

Take action to support the hunger strike! http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/take-action/

Follow the hunger strike on Twitter! http://twitter.com/#!/HStrikeNews

Image by Rashid Johnson (Red Onion Prison in Virginia) in support of CA hunger strikers

Demands

Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (California) are on an indefinite hunger strike that began on July 1, 2011 to protest the cruel, inhumane and tortuous conditions of their imprisonment.

At least 6,600 prisoners across the state of CA have joined them in solidarity with their demands.

The hunger strike has been organized by prisoners in an inspiring show of unity across prison-manufactured racial and geographical lines.

The changes the prisoners are demanding are standards in other Supermax prisons (eg, Federal Florence, Colorado, and Ohio), which supports the prisoners’ position that CDCR’s claim of such demands being a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.The hunger strikers** have developed these five, straight-forward core demands:

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse – This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria

  • Perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement.
  • The practice of “debriefing,” or offering up information about fellow prisoners particularly regarding gang status, is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Debriefing puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches.”
  • The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs such criteria as tattoos, readings materials, and associations with other prisoners (which can amount to as little as greeting) to identify gang members.
  • Many prisoners report that they are validated as gang members with evidence that is clearly false or using procedures that do not follow the Castillo v. Alameida settlement which restricted the use of photographs to prove association.

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement – CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows: Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under California, prison