Trump Administration Siphoning HIV/AIDS Funding For Child Detention Centers

As the public battle about family separations at the U.S. southern border rages on, reports show the Trump administration is taking money from HIV/AIDS programs to fund further separations.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is looking ahead at the possibility that 25,450 more beds for immigrant children could be needed by year’s end.

The office, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, was apparently surprised when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new “zero tolerance” policy that families would be separated if caught crossing the border without authorization.

Under the policy, parents are imprisoned and children have been placed in cages that Sen. Jeff Merkley, who visited a facility, described as resembling “dog kennels.”

Now, in preparation for a new surge of family separations, the HHS is not only asking for supplemental funds, but according to Slate is also planning to reallocate money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

The Ryan White CARE Act was introduced in 1990 by Sen. Ted Kennedy weeks after the death of its namesake Ohio teen, who had been infected with HIV via a blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia. The bill was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

According to the program’s website, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program “provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured.” 

Slate’s reporting indicates the process of transferring those HIV/AIDS funds has already begun.

This is just one more example of the Trump/Pence administration's bias against the LGBTQ community which is massively impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Vice President MikePence famously pledged to siphon funding from the program in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.

On his 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence posted:

“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Additionally, HHS is moving $79 million from refugee resettlement programs. The loss of those funds will undercut medical assistance and social services for refugees in the United States.

(h/t Slate)

NYC Theatre Goers Are Excited For A New Interactive Play About HIV In the Black Gay Community

Theatre lovers are getting excited for a new play focusing on HIV awareness in the gay community and specifically in black gay men.

As Billboard reports, a new play by the name of As Much As I Can is getting ready to debut in New York City. The play hopes to start a dialogue about how HIV affects gay men of color and it’s being put up with the help of HIV/AIDS awareness group ACCELERATE! and its father company ViiV Healthcare.

“It's a reflection of the resilience, faith, love and hope black gay men need to carry on against the odds and stigma,” Marc Meachem, ViiV Healthcare's head of external affairs, said.

As ViiV Healthcare’s website states:

"’As Much as I Can’ invites audiences into the lives of four Black gay men, exploring the complex relationships they have to faith, family, community, friends and themselves. Audiences are also invited to experience the disruptions, dreams, disappointments and resiliencies of these men’s lives.”

The stories in As Much As I Can are based on real experiences shared by Black gay men from Baltimore and Jackson.

On top of that, the play is also an interactive one where the audience can participate in the storytelling.

As Meachem stated to Billboard:

“Theater people describe immersive theater as removing the 'fourth wall,' a barrier between the performance and the audience,” he said. “Removing this barrier creates the opportunity to bring about a deeper connection with the subject. The audience engages at a different level, and we believe this can help people look at their own biases, as well as those of society, more objectively.”

With men of color, and specifically gay and bisexual black men, being the most at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, it’s great that stories like As Much As I Can are shining a light on the problem and sharing stories about it.

As Much As I Can will be playing at Harlem Parish in New York City from May 8 to May 24. You can get tickets for free at amaicny.com.

Red Carpet Reporter Karl Schmid Came Out As HIV-Positive

An on-air reporter for ABC’s Los Angeles affiliate has come out as HIV-positive.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you might be familiar with Karl Schmid. Schmid has reported human interest stories and Hollywood stories (like Academy Award events and the annual Vanity Fair Oscar Party) for ABC7 for several years now.

Last night, Schmid got on Facebook to share with the world the fact that he’s not only HIV-positive, but that he’s been so for the past 10 years.

“For 10 years I’ve struggled with ‘do I or don’t I?’ For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, ‘don’t! It’ll ruin you,’” he wrote.

Adding to the pressure of his “Should I or shouldn’t I?” thoughts, Schmid says he was also advised not to share this information with the world. Many within his circle worried that revealing his HIV-status will affect his career.

That said, the 37-year-old Australian-born reporter came out anyway in hopes that he could serve as inspiration and support for others with a similar status.

“Labels are things that come and go but your dignity and who you are is what defines you. I know who I am, I know what I stand for and while in the past I may not have always had clarity, I do now. Love me or hate me, that’s up to you. But, for anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters,” he concluded.

In addition, Schmid also used his announcement as a way to promote a charity project for The Aids Memorial.

If you want to read Karl Schmid’s full Facebook post, you can read it through this link or down below.