Sen. Rick Scott blocked millions of dollars for HIV prevention when he was governor of Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Then-Gov. Rick Scott speaking at CPACFL in Orlando in 2011. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, from Flickr)

Republican Sen. Rick Scott and his administration rejected $70 million in federal funds to address HIV in Florida while Scott was the state’s governor, according to an investigative report released by The Guardian on Sept. 11.

The Guardian states that between 2015-2017, Florida returned $54 million in grants to the federal government intended for combating HIV. This was “due to an apparently deliberate failure on the part of state health bosses to secure legislative permission to spend such desperately needed funds.”

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Anti-gay attitudes blamed for high HIV rates in Hong Kong

By : Staff Reports From THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Hong Kong. (Photo by Diliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

HONG KONG | HIV diagnosis rates in Hong Kong have climbed over the past decade, unlike in other places in the world where there has been a consistent decline in the numbers of new HIV cases, the South China Morning Post reports.

Between 2010-2016, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses in Hong Kong increased by nearly 80%, to a total of 692 new cases in 2016. By contrast, between 2010 and 2017, the annual rate of new HIV diagnoses declined by 14% in Asia and the Pacific as a whole, the Post reports.

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New music video released for Freddie Mercury’s birthday to spread AIDS awareness

By : Lora Korpar
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(Screenshot from YouTube.)

To celebrate what would have been LGBTQ musical icon Freddie Mercury’s 73rd birthday Sept. 5, Universal Music Group released a new music video for his song “Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

Mercury found fame as the front man for the British rock band Queen. Though he died of AIDS in 1991, the singer’s legacy still looms large, especially after last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” — a biographical movie about his life and rise to fame. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was one of the biggest cinematic hits of 2018 earning more than $900 million at the worldwide box office and won four Oscars, including one for actor Rami Malek who portrayed Mercury in the film.

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Hope & Help announces move to new facilities

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Re-Start group marches in the Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola in 2018. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida will be moving to a new location in Winter Park, the health organization announced in a press release Aug. 28.

“Due to increased demand of HIV-related services, the company is relocating to a larger facility,” the release reads. The new facility is located at 4122 Metric Drive, #800 in Winter Park. Hope & Help moved into their previous facility at 707 Mendham Blvd. in Orlando two years ago.

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AIDS group official resigns over group’s acceptance of drug company funds

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Kyle Murphy, the communications director for the national AIDS advocacy group AIDS United, released to a listserv of AIDS activists a letter informing AIDS United’s president and CEO and other officials and staff members that he was resigning from his job because the group accepts large sums of money from pharmaceutical companies.

Murphy states in his Aug. 9 letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Blade, that AIDS United is among nearly all of the nation’s AIDS advocacy organizations that for years have worked for the interests of people with HIV/AIDS who accept money from drug companies.

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High Fidelity: Talking the talk

By : Miguel Fuller
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Not long before the beginning of Pride season I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the 36th Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service in Pinellas Park. I was nervous because I didn’t want to speak on a subject I wasn’t very versed in.

After having conversations with friends living with HIV and doing a lot of research, I sat down and wrote the speech that I shared from the heart. I shared the story about the first time I went for an HIV test. 

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CBP clarifies HIV family separation occurs on ‘case-by-case basis’

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: U.S. Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings discussing migration trends the agency encounters in March 2019. (Photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr.)

A Trump administration official has clarified remarks in which he said the HIV status of a parent alone is sufficient to separate migrant families at the border, saying such separation isn’t based on HIV being a communicable disease and done on a case-by-case basis.

Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations at U.S. Border Patrol, corrected his previous assertion HIV is a communicable disease in a statement to the Washington Blade.

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HHS says ‘conscience rule’ won’t impair HIV work—but others disagree

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A top health official within the Department of Health & Human Services insists a “conscience rule” recently instituted by the Trump administration will have no impact on its HIV work, although LGBT groups are disputing that assessment.

Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett Giroir made the remarks in testimony on July 8 before the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, which was restaffed this year by President TrumpA transcript of the testimony was obtained Wednesday by the Washington Blade.

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Gays down, straights up in latest Aussie HIV figures

By : Staff Reports from The washington Blade, Courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: (Scanning electromicrograph by NIAID via Flickr)

KENSINGTON, Australia | HIV infection rates for gay men in Australia are down sharply — 30% in five years, HIV Plus Mag reports, citing the Kirby Institute’s 2018 HIV Surveillance Report.

“It’s the lowest number we’ve seen in 18 years,” said Rebecca Guy, head professor of the institute’s Surveillance, Evaluation and Research program, in a report in The Sydney Morning Herald. Guy attributed the drop to the increase of PrEP use, regular testing and treatment efforts. PrEP is highly effective at making HIV transmission nearly impossible.

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Hope & Help to increase HIV awareness as Orlando among top areas with new diagnoses

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Members of Hope & Help’s staff at their Orlando offices. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | In the wake of the latest stats on HIV in the U.S., Hope & Help is looking to increase its visibility in the LGBTQ community. According to the latest numbers from AIDSVu, Central Florida ranks second in the U.S. for most new HIV diagnoses, only behind the Miami-Dade area.

The fact that the top two areas with the largest number of new cases are both in Florida is not surprising to Abby Silverman, operations director at Hope & Help.

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Dining Out For Life adds Central Florida, Space Coast LGBTQ organizations to list for 2020

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Dining Out For Life, an annual fundraiser for local HIV service organizations at locations around the world, announced June 6 that The LGBT+ Center and Project Response would be participating in the event in 2020.

“Central Florida will now be part of Dining Out For Life International because of the efforts put forth by The LGBT+ Center Orlando, Inc. (The Center) and Project Response, Inc. of Melbourne,” the press release announced.

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Trump hails deal with Gilead for PrEP donation as ‘great news’

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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President Trump hailed on May 9 a deal with Gilead for the donation of PrEP for HIV prevention for the uninsured as “great news.”

Trump, who announced during his State of the Union address a plan to beat the HIV epidemic by 2030, took to Twitter to declare his pleasure the agreement with the drug manufacturer.

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