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  1. December 1986 Dusk had come early that afternoon and by the time of the church’s Evensong Service, all that could be seen outside the windows was black night. The church’s windows only reflected darkness, not even vague shapes or movement within it. In the time before the service began, I sat in my pew and stared at those dark night windows. It was called The Youth Service. Once a month, the church’s Young People’s Fellowship was allowed to take part in the Evensong Service, though not the church’s big Sunday morning Eucharist Service. We, the young people, were allowed to lead the service’s music, even choose some of it, read the lessons and lead the prayers, even perform a short dramatic sketch, but we weren’t allowed to choose the service’s theme and we were certainly not allowed to preach the sermon. At twenty, I was still classed as a “youth” at church and was a member of the Young People’s Fellowship. I was sitting in the pew, waiting for that month’s Youth Service to begin. Two of us were going to perform a short sketch about where the kingdom of God actually was. Back then, my writing was very Christian and focused much more on Christianity’s message than any attempt to create realistic characters and situations and then to explore themes through them. The high point of the Evensong Service was the sermon; the whole liturgy of the service seemed to lead up to it. That Sunday, the church’s curate was preaching. He was a middle-aged family man who took a very literal view of the Bible and that Sunday he had chosen a very topical subject for his sermon. The previous week, James Anderton, the chief constable of Manchester police, the neighbouring city, had said that people with HIV/AIDS were "swirling in a human cesspit of their own making" (1). The curate chose this as his sermon topic that evening. In the sermon James Anderton was called a prophet of God and the curate applauded him for what he said. He said Anderton was standing up for the truth and that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuals. He told the congregation that homosexuals were a sin and now God was enacting his judgement on them. He said that people chose to be homosexual and therefore chose to turn away from God and they deserved AIDS. I sat in my pew, wishing I was a million miles away from there. His words felt as if they were a direct attack on me. He was telling me that I wasn’t wanted there and that I was going straight to hell just for being who I was. It was as if his anger and hatred was directed straight at me. I was being told I wasn’t welcome there even when I was still deeply in the closet. No one there knew I was gay, not even the curate the night he preached that sermon. I barely knew it, I had certainly not acted on my sexuality, I had not kissed another man, not even held another man’s hand back then. James Anderton was a divisive figure, even in 1986. Before his bigoted statements on people with HIV/AIDS, he had been called “God’s Copper” (2), and it was deserved. In 1987, he called for homosexuality to be criminalised again. He said, “The law of the land allows consenting adult homosexuals to engage in sexual practises which I think should be criminal offences. Sodomy between males is an abhorrent offence, condemned by the word of God, and ought to be against the criminal law.” (3) He also encouraged his police officers to patrol the Canal Street area of Manchester, the heart of the city’s gay village even then, to stalk its dark alleys and arrest any men caught in the merest clinch (4). There were also allegations that Manchester police used a colour-coding system to identify anyone homosexual in their files (5). Anderton wasn’t just homophobic, he also had far right-wing views that he happily allowed to influence his role as chief constable. He openly stated the elected Labour politicians, who were running Manchester’s council, were part of a left-wing conspiracy to destroy British democracy (6). In late 1977, Anderton secretly met with a National Front leader to ensure that the far-right group could hold marches in Manchester without the risk of counter protests, when other cities had banned marches by the National Front. He allowed the marches to happen as long as their routes were kept secret beforehand (7). In 1987, he called for the corporal punishment for criminals until they begged for mercy (8) and he also called for the castration of rapists (9). Anderton saw himself as having “a direct line to God” (10) and therefore being a prophet of God (11). He claimed that God was calling him to speak out on moral issues, therefore implying that his views could not be questioned because they came directly from God. (I have met this attitude many times in my life and always found it extremely worrying and even dangerous because it always seems to be used to justify extremist views.) Anderton’s statements and behaviour didn’t go unchallenged. After his bigoted comments about people with HIV/AIDS and his claim to be God’s prophet, in January 1987 Manchester Council called for his resignation (5). The council leader wrote to then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, calling for Anderton’s behaviour and his handling of Manchester’s police force to be formally investigated and him to be reprimanded (12). Other chief constables said Anderton was “bringing ridicule” onto the police service (12). Anderton ignored the call for his resignation, which is not surprising, but recently it has emerged that he was being protected by Margaret Thatcher’s government and Thatcher herself (12). In response to calls to restrain Anderton’s public announcements, her private secretary wrote to Douglas Hurd stating, "The Prime Minister has commented that it would be outrageous if the Chief Constable [Anderton] were required to seek clearance for all his public speaking engagements." (12) Thatcher also stopped any enquiry into Anderton’s behaviour, saying he shouldn’t be stopped from speaking publicly at non-policing events (13). She protected him. In December 1986, I didn’t know of most of this, but I had heard Anderton making his statement on people with HIV/AIDS. His words were incredibly harsh and lacking in any compassion or concern; he actually seemed happy in his condemnation. How could he be speaking God’s will when there was no compassion to his words? Even though it was only 1986, I had taken a lot of time to read and learn about AIDS, though on my own and in secret, and nowhere could I see the facts of AIDS reflected in Anderton’s words. Sitting in that church pew, I felt so beaten down and depressed. This was what the curate felt about me and now he was condemning me to hell, even though he didn’t know it was me he was specifically condemning. I had joined that church as a safe place, a place where I could be myself, a place where I was known as myself, not solely as my parents’ child, a place where I was wanted and could belong. I had been wrong. This wasn’t a safe place; this was a dangerous place of condemnation and hatred. I wasn’t wanted there. I felt sick and afraid. I didn’t know what to do. It was a relief when the sermon was over, the end of the service rapidly approaching, but I couldn’t unhear those words. James Anderton, with all his hatred and bigotry, had been identified as prophet of God, the curate publicly stating that all his words were the truth. The words of that sermon told me so much—I wasn’t welcome there and neither was I safe, but where else could I go? After the service I made some quick excuses and left the church early, I couldn’t risk hearing people say how much they agreed with that sermon. I had to leave that building and hurry out into the dark December night. But hurrying home still didn’t nullify that sermon, didn’t silence its words in my mind. When I reached home, I found my father in a very chatty mood. My mother was out visiting a friend that evening and he wanted someone to talk to, but I just wanted to be silent. He started asking me how the service had been but got quickly tired with my monosyllabic and vague answers. I claimed I wasn’t feeling well and retreated to the solitude and safety of my bedroom. How could I tell my father what had happened? I could barely admit it to myself and to tell him would have involved, in some way, telling him I was gay, and back then that was an impossible task. Even as I heard that sermon, I knew its words were untrue, but the prejudice and hatred behind it was all too real. My greatest regret from that evening was that I didn’t just stand up and walk out of the church as soon as I realised what that sermon was about, silently announcing my opposition to all of its hatred rather than condoning it with my silent presence. But that was far too big of a thing to ask of myself back then, too much to force on my very closeted self. But hindsight is still a wonderful thing… (The photograph illustrating this essay is not a picture of the church where this took place) Drew
  2. Treatment and survival of people with HIV has improved greatly over the years. No longer is HIV an automatic terminal condition. Now treatment opinions are varied and complex so treatment manuals are a required resource, but a resource is only as good as the information in it. The editors here, Libman and Mackadon (both doctors), appear to have put a lot of work into this volume. The authors of each section are qualified for the area they are writing on. It felt refreshing that the editors have selected a variety of authors. So often editors only have a handful of authors, the same people writing many of the sections, spreading their experience rather thinly. This book is very medical in tone. The majority of authors are medics. The language used and the approach taken is very medical. This can be off-putting, but don’t pass by this book because there is a wealth of information here. The focus here is a medical model, emphasis on treatment opinions and the physiological effects of HIV, but this information is still valuable for many of us. This isn’t a book to read from beginning to end, some of the dry and medical language used here could make that difficult; but it is a book to dip into for information. The price of this book could also be off-putting; but it is a useful resource for anyone working in the field of HIV. (This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine) Find it here on Amazon
  3. Self-help books have become a modern publishing phenomenon, bookshops have whole sections dedicated to them and a large number of them are of questionable value, often being written by people who have little or no experience of the subject. Fortunately, this book doesn’t fall into that category. The authors are four clinical psychologists, all with extensive experience working with people who are HIV positive. The book has been designed as a guide for people newly diagnosed with HIV and covers what to expect and what to do following this sea-change in their life. It is divided into three sections. The first part looks at the lifestyle implications of being HIV positive; healthcare, disclosure of HIV statutes, stress, relationships and children. The second part looks at emotional strategies for coping with HIV, and the last section looks at a problem-solving approach to living with HIV. Because of the authors’ backgrounds and approach, this book may come across as “warm and fuzzy”, it certainly has a lot of emphasis on the emotional/psychological side of the experience, but for a lot of people this is what they can be swamped with when they are first diagnosed. It is refreshing, though, to have a self-help book do this. This is not a book that is based on one person’s narrow experience of HIV. Unfortunately, there is little to offer nurses and other healthcare professionals here. Much of the advice will be common knowledge to many nurses and the tone can come across as a bit simplistic, but this isn’t a book aimed at healthcare professionals, it’s aimed at the general population. The value of this book is that it can be recommended to patients or others. It could be very useful to someone newly diagnosed with HIV or someone struggling to come to terms with it. Rating: four out of five stars. (This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine) Find it here on Amazon Drew Payne
  4. HIV vaccine aces first human trials First human tests have been declared as a success with patients' antibodies being boosted after treatment 04 September 2013 | By Joe Morgan http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/hiv-vaccine-aces-first-human-trials040913 An HIV prevention vaccine has aced its first clinical trials. A team of Canadian researchers, from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University, have said their first tests have been a complete success. Not only has the vaccine worked, it has boosted the production of antibodies in patients it was tested on. SAV001, one of only a handful of HIV vaccines in the world, is based on a genetically-modified ‘dead’ version of the virus. Team leader Dr Chil-Yong Kang told Ontario Business Report they infected the cells with a genetically modified HIV-1. ‘The infected cells produce lots of virus, which we collect, purify and inactivate so that the vaccine won’t cause AIDS in recipients, but will trigger immune responses.’ Clinical testing in the US began in March 2102, looking at men and women between the ages of 18 and 50. Half the target group were given a placebo, while the others were given SAV001. No adverse effects were found in the group given the vaccine. With the first phase of trials over, the researchers are optimistic about the vaccine’s future. The next trials will show whether SAV001 will provoke the right immune response, and its power to produce the right effect. Sumagen, the South Korean biotech firm sponsoring the vaccine, said manufacturing as well as USFDA requirements could be possible hurdles. But despite this, they were confident they were developing something that could save ‘millions of lives.’ If all goes well, it could be available in 2018. Jung-Gee Cho, the CEO of Sumagen, said: ‘We are opening the gate to pharmaceutical companies, government, and charity organization for collaboration to be one step closer to the first commercialized HIV vaccine.’
  5. The Saga Continues.... IFFY LUBE! By Nevin Jefferson The Center for Disease Control is trying bend us over and slap on a glob of Iffy Lube before giving us the mind f**k of a contradiction. On Tuesday, November 8th , the CDC had their very own Dr. Douglas announce the following: "Syphilis has increased 8 percent during 2003-2004. This increase has occurred among all racial groups. The rate among African-American men rose 22.6 percent. But between blacks the rates increased for the first time in a decade, largely attributable to [men who sleep with men (MSM)]." Douglas cited "part of the problem [is] coming from sexual meetings arranged through the Internet, which made it difficult to track the course of new syphilis infections." Dr. Douglas, not one to hog all of the media attention, shared the spotlight. "Sexually transmitted diseases pose a significant and ongoing threat, when it comes to reducing syphilis in MSM there is no simple solution. Innovative screening and prevention programs around the country are having a positive impact in many areas and providing crucial lessons that will help us meet new challenges," said Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, the acting director of the CDC. Syphilis rates increased in many U.S. cities with large Gay populations, including San Francisco, which had the highest rate of any city for the third straight year, as well as Chicago, Denver, Miami, New York City and Seattle, among others. The national rate of primary and secondary syphilis (the early stages of the disease) rose for the fourth consecutive year in 2004, since hitting an historic low in 2000. The good news was that the national rate of gonorrhea reached an all-time low in 2004. The bad news is, research in 28 cities found an increase in gonorrhea cases that were resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, the first-line treatment for the infection and the increase was eight times higher for MSM than for heterosexuals. "The real problem is HIV. Gonorrhea and syphilis are serious in their own right, but AIDS kills. And other STDs make a person even more likely to catch or transmit HIV," said Dr. Hunter Handsfield, director of Public Health-Seattle & King County's STD Control Program. On November the 18th, the CDC released the following to the media then RAN!& The rate of newly reported HIV cases among Blacks has been dropping by 5 percent a year since 2001, the government said Thursday. BUT, Blacks are still 8 times more likely than Whites to be diagnosed with the AIDS virus. "The racial disparities remain severe," said Lisa Lee, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The falling rate among Blacks seems to be tied to overlapping drops in diagnoses among injection drug users and heterosexuals, CDC researchers said. Any, Many, Mighty, Mo, all of this B*LLS**T HAS GOT TO GO! You know when people are lying through their teeth which they make excuses for the smack that they're saying. The study was based on 2001-04 data from 33 states that have named-based reporting systems for HIV. Health officials don't know which diagnoses represent new infections and which ones were infections people had for years, but had just discovered. The CDC found that overall diagnoses in the 33 states decreased slightly, from 41,207 cases in 2001 to 38,685 in 2004. The rate fell from 22.8 case per 100,0000 people in 2001 to 20.7 per 100,000 in 2001. The decline was more pronounced among Blacks-the rate dropped from 88.7 per 100,000 in 2001 to 76.3 in 2004. Among Whites, the rate rose slightly from 8.7 to 9.0. "At least part of the decline among Blacks appears to be tied to a 9 percent annual decline in diagnoses among injection drug users, who can get the virus from contaminated needles. More than half of the drug users were Black," Lee was quoted telling the press. I find this odd because must of the people I see at the Needle Exchange Program are White. The decline is also linked to a 4 percent decline in diagnoses among heterosexuals. About 69 percent of the heterosexuals diagnosed with HIV were Black. Diagnoses among men who have sex with men remained roughly stable from 2001 to 2003, but climbed 8 percent between 2003 and 2004. That was true for men of all races, CDC officials quoted to anyone listening. But, they could not explain the recent increase. The CDC has a list of reasons of why Black men and women have relatively high rates of HIV infection and AIDS. With the top two being poverty and sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC lists that the problem is fueled by denial in the Black community about drug injection use with dirty needles and homosexuality on the low down in the hood. How Very! I live in poverty and I can't afford to have sex! Why is the CDC dealing with this on shaky ground? Well, probably because the folks at the CDC are nervous about the reaction from Blacks throwing a fit and complaining to the N.A.A.C.P. and the A.C.L.U. Yes, once again Blacks are being used as the scapegoats in an epidemic. They wouldn't dare print this about White folks. True, the rise in HIV and STD is a constant happening in the dear old Black Community. Yes, Black men are out on the Down Low and are lying about having sex with men. The Government is trying to come up with a new category for this group. PLEEEASE! Without a shadow of a doubt, there is a higher percentage of HIV and AIDS in the Black female population in the United States. The CDC last year (2004) looked at data from 1999 to 2002 and reported that, using data from 29 states that track HIV infections. The data is somewhat scewed, because several states have serious problems figuring this out including California, New York, and Illinois who did not at that time tabulate a total on HIV infections. Of course, the study found that Black women accounted for nearly 72 percent of the female cases, while Whites made up 18 percent and Hispanics 8.5 percent. True, 13 percent of Americans are Black, you don't need a math scientist to see the scale of the problem. Good news is that the number of new HIV cases reported in women, regardless of race, did not increase during the four years that the study analyzed. Black women in 2002 accounted for 67 percent of the country's AIDS cases among women. The vast majority of Black Women with AIDS live in the South (Shut your mouth, Honey Child!) and the Northeast. Approximately, 35 percent of newly reported HIV cases in the United States between 1999 and 2002 are from heterosexual sex, according to a CDC report published in the February 20th 2004 issue of morbidity and mortality weekly report, as told by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The report stated that 64 percent of newly reported HIV cases from heterosexual hoochie-coochie were among women. Seventy-four percent were among Blacks. Breaking it down, 55 percent of new HIV infections were among Blacks, 31 percent among whites and 11 percent among Hispanics. If you have any problems with the latter I just mentioned, inform Mckenna at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2/20 issue). They'll probably tell you that they don't remember or the ever popular: "We didn't say that!" According to Reuter Health (2/19 issue), 90 percent of new HIV infections were from "typical teenagers" engaging in heterosexual sex. Of course, they coped a plea that they were unaware of the risk of HIV transmission through heterosexual sex. Yeah Right! They were under the mind-set that it was a Gay disease. Well, they have their parents and church to thank for this one. Since they're under the impression that it's God's will, what will they call it now? The same comment goes to Blacks who operate under the same mind-set. How are all of the heterosexual women getting infected with the infection rate for heterosexual men lower? Since I asked, I'll probably be told: Contaminated swimming pool, dirty doorknob, and defective Tampon. Speaking of numbers, where are the new statistics for AIDS/HIV 2005? The CDC keeps claiming that there's no epidemics, but haven't published the numbers to prove this fact. Maybe they're testing the water with the shake and fake action as done with the STD and HIV/AIDS cases as the tip of the iceberg. Talking loud and saying nothing! December 9, 2005
  6. I went to lunch recently with a old school friend I hadn't seen in years. Same old story, lost touch over years, went to a High School Reunion, reacquainted ourselfs, and planned a lunch date to catch up, that got post poned like 10 times. A year later we finally get our busy schedules in line and met for a very good lunch. I told him that I had something to tell him. "He said sure what is it." " Well, I have schizophrenia! Been sick for the past 15 years, but doing well these days." I got the look....by now I know the look. Most are usually running scenarios in their head while your saying this, like you should be in a bell tower somewhere picking off people with a rifle. Or in a robe slobbering all over yourself talking in code, or wearing a tin foil hat so the government cant steal your thoughts. Others are scanning the table to check to see if all the knives and forks are accounted for. I gave him the whole run down how it started, how it took 5 years to get stable and how my life is doing now... good I might add. He did rather well I thought, and only had a few questions. The the next thing, he says, "Well I got something I'd like to tell you." He totally trumps my little disease with his..."I'm HIV+, and have been since 1991." Now I had the look of holy crabcakes, and he had the look of is he going to freak out or be cool with it. It was kinda like in wrestling when you think you have someone in a full nelson and your yelling at them to submit, cause there's no way in hell they are going to get out of this, then BAM, the next thing you know, your on your face with your arm pinned back, and your loosing the match. Holy Cow..he let me go on and on about my crybaby crap and he has this bomb. I think I handled it well and we talked for a long time. I don't think he had ever met anyone with schizophrenia, and I have never had any one tell me they had HIV. Its a small town...so it was kinda surreal to say the least. We both have diseases with lots of stigma associated with them. I texted him later to let him know we would keep in touch, and we needed to schedule another lunch or dinner very soon.. He agreed. Sorry, its something personal, but I didn't have anyone else I could to share this with.
  7. I know there is always a new promise for finding a cure for cancer or other killing diseases, but seldom have I seen a promise to possible stop and cure both cancer and HIV. Also other diseases like Zika too. I appears this university PhD student in Canada in working with university and government labs, has possibly done that. Stopping the disease from the molecular DNA level preventing it from metastasizing and spreading. I really hope this isn't another false hope. The one thing that is heartening is the research is being done on the academic, government level and not through private industry. Conspiracy theorists might not be able to win this one
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