AIDS Protestors Arrested At White House by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: December 1, 2007 - 11:00 am ET
(Washington) A giant red ribbon hangs from the White House marking World AIDS Day but HIV/AIDS activists say the Bush administration is not doing enough to combat the virus.
Police took 40 people into custody when they sat down on the sidewalk in front of the White House and refused to move.
The activists say the administration's insistence on AIDS money being tied to abstinence-only programs is helping fuel the spread of HIV. They condemn the way international aid is being channeled by the government and say restrictions on how the District of Columbia spends money has helped make Washington the US city with the highest rate of new HIV infections.
A study released last month by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found abstinence-only efforts have little positive impact. ([Only registered members can see links. ]) A growing number of states is refusing federal HIV/AIDS education money because it is tied to teaching abstinence.
But foreign funding is still tied to abstinence education and some of it is finding its way to groups accused of violence against gays.
Among those receiving money, according to US government records, is Uganda Muslim Tabliqh, and the Makerere University Community Church. The church's leader, Pastor Martin Ssempa, was a leading organizer of the anti-gay rally in Kampala. The youth wing of Muslim Tabliqh announced a plan to form an 'Anti-Gay Squad' to fight homosexuality in Uganda. [Only registered members can see links. ])
Nevertheless, on Friday Bush urged Congress to approve an additional $30 billion for the international fight against AIDS. ([Only registered members can see links. ])
The administration also is under fire for restrictions on people who are HIV positive. A travel and immigration ban prohibits HIV-positive foreign nationals, students, and tourists from entering the U.S. unless they obtain a special waiver that only allows for short term travel. Current policy also prevents the vast majority of individuals with HIV from obtaining legal permanent residency.
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to remove the restrictions but it is being fought by Homeland Security.
A report by District of Columbia health officials this week found the district has the highest HIV infection rate of any city in the country. Almost one in every fifty people in Washington is living with HIV/AIDS - a total of 12,400 people. ([Only registered members can see links. ])
Unprotected sex was the most common way HIV. is spread, followed by intravenous drug use. Washington, which is controlled by Congress, is the only city in the country barred by federal law from using local tax money to finance needle exchange programs.
World AIDS Day is being marked by communities across the globe. An estimated 40 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS.
In San Francisco, where the first AIDS patient was diagnosed in 1980, a special service is being held at the National AIDS Memorial.
The Memorial was conceived in 1989 by a small group of San Franciscans who had lost loved ones to AIDS.
Development of the Memorial in Golden Gate Park began in 1991. The site was designated a national memorial by act of Congress in 1996. The Memorial is a seven-acre wooded basin historically known as de Laveaga Dell. Its gathering areas are constructed of stone and wood.
Last week the Centers for Disease Control said that gonorrhea rates are jumping again after hitting a record low, and an increasing number of cases are caused by a "superbug" version resistant to common antibiotics. The CDC also said that Syphilis is rising, too. ([Only registered members can see links. ])
The increase in incidences of STDs is considered an indication people are increasing having unprotected sex - a precursor to rising HIV cases.
For one state that concern became all to apparent this week when Florida's Health Department issued a new report showing one in every 22 gay and bi men across the state is HIV-positive, and in South Florida the rate is much higher. ([Only registered members can see links. ])
In Broward County, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale, one in every 11 gay white men is estimated to be positive. For gay Black men the rate it is 1 in 17. The results were similar for Dade County, which includes Miami and South Beach, and for Palm Beach County. LGBT activists said the report shows education methods are not working. They called for a new look at how to reach gay and bi men.
In South Africa, the country with the largest number of people with HIV/AIDS, an international concert is being held in Johannesburg to mark World AIDS Day. It is the fifth in a series of annual concerts that Nelson Mandela has used to raise awareness about AIDS. Among those participating are U2, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Beyonce, Bob Geldof and Angelique Kidjo. An estimated 5.4 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS virus.