Coronavirus concerns impact Central Florida and Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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An estimated 60,000 people filled the streets of Ybor City for Tampa Pride last year, celebrating Tampa Bay’s growing LGBTQ community. It’s a record that organizers were expecting to break this year until March 12, when they postponed their sixth annual outing originally scheduled for March 28.

Since Tampa Pride’s return to Hillsborough County in 2015, attendees, vendors, parade participants and community sponsors have grown year after year. Its expansion is made possible by its supporters, Tampa Pride President Carrie West says.

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03.19.2020 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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The problem with running a bi-weekly newspaper is timing. Even before social media this was an issue. Watermark goes to press roughly 40 hours before it hits the stands, leaving a window of uncertainty. There have been instances where something in our pages was obsolete by the time the articles were in the hands of our readers.

More often, a story we worked on would change at the last minute, leaving the editorial team to scramble to replace it. Such is the case with this issue. We had planned to report to you the amazing events and good times coming our way with Tampa Pride. Unfortunately, and quickly, societal norms changed and forced a postponement of the annual event.

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Southern Nights Orlando, Tampa announce temporary closures

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Southern Nights Orlando and Southern Nights Tampa will temporarily close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an interim guidance recommending that large and mass gatherings postpone in-person events consisting of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.

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NIAID Director to Congress: Help us implement plan to end HIV

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Dr. Anthony Fauci said that scientific advances have made it possible to end the HIV epidemic in the United States within the next decade if not much sooner. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told an audience of mostly legislative aides to members of Congress at a Dec. 5 congressional briefing on Capitol Hill that scientific advances have made it possible to end the HIV epidemic in the United States within the next decade if not much sooner.

In an impassioned description of what he calls “implementation science,” Fauci said he and his colleagues at the National Institute of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other federal, state, and local health agencies are hopeful that a newly launched federal plan to end HIV will be able to overcome socio-economic barriers that have prevented the scientific advances from reaching those who could most benefit from them.

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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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Start the conversation: transgender people

By : Jeremy Williams
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How often should you see your primary care physician? What health screenings, evaluations and/or vaccinations should you have? Should you be on any medications? Don’t ask us! We aren’t real doctors, we only occasionally play one on TV.

Just like every fingerprint, snowflake and social media opinion; each person’s individual health concerns are varied and different. That’s why the only effective healthy game plan for you is one that is constructed between you and your doctor.

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CDC chief on anti-trans memo: Stigma ‘not in the interest of public health’

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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President Trump’s own director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention pushed back Oct. 23 on the reported memo within the administration seeking to eliminate federal protections for transgender people, according to the Boston-based STAT news life science website.

Although Robert Redfield reportedly declined to criticize the proposal restricting the definition of “sex” under federal law to biological gender, the CDC director suggested the plan would heighten stigma for transgender people.

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LGBT Latinx support offered in Boston

By : Staff Reports OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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BOSTON |  Fenway Health is offering a new Spanish support group for Latinx LGBT people, The Rainbow Times reports.

“Many LGBT people in the Latinx community struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation or gender identity with entrenched anti-LGBT cultural and religious stigma,” said Gerardo Moreno-Serrano, a bilingual psychotherapist at Fenway Health, who facilitates the group, according to The Rainbow Times. “Additionally, they must contend with racism and homophobia within our broader society, higher rates of HIV, immigration and asylum issues, and other issues of health and safety. Our group aims to give LGBT Latinx people the tools and support they need to live healthy, authentic, fulfilling lives.”

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Walgreens to offer free rapid HIV test for National HIV Testing Day

By : Kathy Ruiz
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ORLANDO | First observed in 1995, National HIV Testing Day is held every June 27 to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as to encourage people to get tested, know their status and get linked to treatment and care.

Walgreens is partnering with the Orange County Department of Health to offer free rapid HIV testing and information about prevention options including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP — the HIV prevention pill.

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UPDATE: Publix to begin covering HIV preventative drug PrEP for employees

By : Jeremy Williams
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UPDATE:

After meeting with state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Publix announced they would begin allowing PrEP to be covered for their employees under their prescription benefits.

The company took to Twitter saying:

Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. We offer generous health coverage to our eligible full-time and part-time associates at an affordable premium and are committed to the health and well-being of our associates and their families.

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LGB teens more suicidal: study

By : Staff Reports OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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NEW YORK — LGB teens are more likely to plan or commit suicide according to research published this week in the journal JAMA, CNN and other outlets report.

Looking at answers in the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey in the U.S., researchers found that 40 percent of high school students who are considered sexual minorities were seriously considering suicide, CNN reports.

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PrEP usage low in young gays CDC finds

By : Staff Reports OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Less than 4 percent of young adult men who have sex with men in the U.S. are on PrEP according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data was taken from an anonymous online survey of 2,347 black, white and Hispanic men ages 18-24 who’d had anal sex but were not HIV-positive, Reuters reports.

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