Activists warn of hidden provision in insurance plans for HIV drugs

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Officials with organizations representing people with HIV and other chronic illnesses are urging patients who rely on drug manufacturers’ co-pay assistance contributions to help lower the cost of their prescription medication to be extra careful if they decide to select a new health insurance plan.

In a press conference on Wednesday, officials with the AIDS Institute, the Arthritis Foundation, and the National Organization for Rare Disorders warned that a growing number of insurers are refusing to allow co-payment assistance coupons provided by drug manufacturers from counting toward patients’ annual deductibles.

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Parenting desires unchanged by HIV status

By : Staff Reports OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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LONDON | Approximately 40 percent of HIV-positive adults starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the United States would like to have children in the future, a proportion that remained unchanged after two years of follow-up, investigators report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. The findings were published in the journal AIDSmap.

There was no significant difference in the proportion of women, men who have sex with women (MSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) who said they would like to have children. Younger people and black MSM were more likely to want to have children, AIDSmap reports.

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Bliss CARES announces new program to assist hardship patients

By : Jaime Donelson
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ORLANDO l Bliss CARES announced a new eligibility card program to help patients experiencing financial hardships or individuals without insurance.

The eligibility card will allow the holder access to free healthcare services related to HIV, Hepatitis and STDs for one year. Services will include clinic visits, lab tests, mental health care counseling, vaccines, co-pays, medicine and care management.

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Prison officer sentenced for sexually assaulting inmates

By : wire report
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JUNEAU, Wis. (AP) |  A former correctional officer who is HIV-positive has been was sentenced to 35 years in prison for sexually assaulting several inmates at the state prison in Fox Lake.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports 34-year-old Alex Wouts, of Poy Sippi, was sentenced Friday.

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Denmark to revise blood donation laws in 2019

By : Staff Reports OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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COPENHAGEN |  Sexually active gay men in Denmark will be able to donate blood in 2019, the Copenhagen Post reports, citing the country’s health minister.

The new rules mean gay men will be able to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man within a quarantine period of four months. The quarantine period is voided if the donor is in a relationship with one partner.

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Community organizations form Zero Pinellas initiative to combat HIV

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Seven community organizations have partnered to form Zero Pinellas, an initiative granted $2,207,694 over three years to reduce new HIV infections in Pinellas County by at least 50 percent.

The participating organizations—the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The AIDS Institute, BayCare, Empath Health and EPIC, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and Metro Wellness and Community Centers—were granted the funds by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The private foundation uses its funds to support health equity countywide.

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Trans of Thought: May I ‘Pose’ a question?

By : Maia Monet
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“Pose” on the FX channel recently completed its inaugural season run and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Every week we were treated to the largest cast of transgender women ever assembled in one show, strutting across our screens with their improvised catwalks, to the beat of glorious 80s music.

We dove into the lives of their characters and saw their struggles with poverty, family, the men who fetishize them, sex work and living with HIV. We felt their hurt at yet another rejection and relished their triumphs in the face of adversity. In a way not too often seen on television, we were centered in the story and humanized.

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PHOTOS: The Center Kissimmee holds its grand opening and ribbon cutting

By : Jeremy Williams
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. | Politicians, media, local leaders and community members all gathered at the new LGBT+ Center in Kissimmee for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 15.

George Wallace, executive director of The Center, welcomed guests before introducing a string of political leaders — State Rep. John Cortes, Congressman Darren Soto and Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb — who all expressed gratitude for The Center coming to Kissimmee. Grieb also presented The Center with a proclamation from the county. 

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In Haiti, slight progress for LGBT rights is seen as victory

By : wire report
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) | Yaisah Val recently came out publicly as a transgender woman on YouTube, a potentially risky move in a country like Haiti where LGBT residents face pervasive hostility in most spheres of public life.

Two proposed anti-LGBT laws are pending in Parliament. The major churches are firm in their condemnation of homosexuality. Gay Haitians are frequent targets of attacks and harassment, and police are often unsympathetic to victims of anti-gay violence.

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The Center Orlando announces opening of new Kissimmee location

By : Colton Adkins
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. | After releasing plans earlier this year to expand into Kissimmee, The Center Orlando has announced the location and opening date of its new LGBT+ Center.

The Center Kissimmee, located at 21 W. Monument Ave., will open Aug. 8 with an official grand opening and ribbon cutting scheduled for Aug. 15.

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Balance Tampa Bay’s Avant Garde masquerade to benefit EPIC

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay will hold its fourth annual masquerade ball Aug. 4 in Tampa Heights to benefit Empath Partners in Care (EPIC).

Balance Tampa Bay is an LGBTA volunteer organization that focuses on promoting fellowship, fun and philanthropy throughout the LGBTQ community. The organization’s annual masquerade ball has benefited EPIC since the event’s inception, with 2017’s gathering raising $32,000 for the nonprofit dedicated to providing services to those impacted by HIV/AIDS throughout the region.

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Prince Harry and Elton John team up to launch coalition to fight HIV in men

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Prince Harry and Elton John discussing the AIDS 2018 Plenary Session (Photo via Twitter)

Prince Harry and Elton John are collaborating on a new effort to raise HIV awareness in men.

The Duke of Sussex and the singer appeared together at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday to announce the launch of the MenStar coalition which was founded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Unitaid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences.

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