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Rand Paul Was A Longtime Member Of AIDS-Denialist Medical Group

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a legitimate medical doctor, specifically an ophthalmologist. He is, however, not an epidemiologist, which would explain in part why he's made an utter fool of himself in the discussion of vaccines. What explains it further is that Paul was once a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group founded in the 40's to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine," as The New Civil Rights Movement points out.

The group, which is still in existence, got an early start on the anti-vaccination movement and said in a 2007 press release that it "promised to do everything it can to support parents who refuse to immunize their children" because they too believed that vaccines cause autism. Also among the group's beliefs: HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

An advisor to Paul, Doug Stafford, tried to spin some damage control to BuzzFeed, telling them "he didn’t know if Paul was still a member of the group but that he joined because it was a group of pro-life doctors. He said Paul does not endorse all the group’s views."

Stafford neglected to say which views, precisely, the Senator does not endorse.


Nancy Reagan Blocked Rock Hudson's Last Ditch Effort To Seek HIV/AIDS Treatment

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Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related complications in 1985, a year after he is said to have been diagnosed as being HIV positive. In the year between his diagnosis and subsequent death Hudson largely kept his status and deteriorating health hidden from the public while he sought out experimental treatments abroad. According to a lengthy BuzzFeed piece, Hudson’s attempts to maintain his health in France were actively impeded by then First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Hudson had been receiving experimental treatments under the care of Dominique Dormant, a French army doctor, since 1984 at a time when funding for HIV/AIDS research in the U.S. was virtually nonexistent. As Hudson’s health took a turn for the worse in 1985, however, the actor found himself unable to gain access to a French military hospital, as the doctor was fighting to keep him alive. Via BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner:

As Hudson lay deathly ill in the hospital, his publicist, Olson, sent a desperate telegram to the Reagan White House pleading for help with the transfer.

“Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness,” Olson wrote. Although the commanding officer had denied Hudson admission to the French military hospital initially, Olson wrote that they believed “a request from the White House … would change his mind.”

First Lady Nancy Reagan turned down the request.


London Transit Authorities Reject Sexy Poster For AIDS Play 'My Night With Reg'

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My Night With Reg is a classic AIDS-themed comedy production by Kevin Elyot that has been making the rounds since 1994. For the 20th anniversary a new poster was produced, featuring actor Lewis Reeve's hanging buns, partially obscured by David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album. But while the ad met London's advertising restriction standards, Transport for London - which runs the underground - deemed it too racy and banned it from being displayed. 

The Evening Standard got a statement from a TfL press officer, confirming "if it has been rejected it means that it doesn't meet the guidance that we have set." The Standard noted that Justin Bieber's photoshopped bulge evidently does meet the guidance of the TfL.

The play's revival began Saturday and officially opens this Friday at the Apollo Theater and is scheduled to run through April 11th.


Unnamed Gay Actor In Sero-Discordant Couple Reports Successful Surrogate Conception Thanks To Sperm Washing

WashingStatistical data about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents raising children tells a complex story about the modern American family. An analysis of census and survey data conducted by the Williams Institute estimated that about 37% of LGBT-identified individuals were the parents to children at some point in their lives.

Less than 10 percent of the surveyed male couples reported that they were raising biological children of their own, compared to 24 percent of female couples. Unsurprisingly, the study does not explicitly mention HIV positive men, an even smaller portion of gay population seeking to have biological children of their own.

For decades the path to biological parenthood for men living with HIV has been complicated given the few, costly medical innovations in the perinatal field available to them. According to an unnamed actor writing for The Hollywood Reporter, however, he and his sero-discordant partner have found success with a technique known as sperm washing.

“We had done our research and found a lab that was working with parents who shared our status,” he writes. “We were lucky: We were set up with a surrogate who was educated and compassionate.”

Sperm washing is a controversial technique the involves the separation, or “washing” of viable sperm cells of the seminal fluid that might carry the HIV virus. Currently the Centers for Disease Control still advise most doctors against assisting HIV positive men attempting to conceive through the use of washed sperm. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, however, reversed its position in 2002, twelve years after an HIV positive man accidentally infected his wife via sperm washing. There are today a handful of clinics scattered throughout the country willing to attempt the method.


ACT UP Planning An Organized Protest of the HRC's Upcoming Corporate Gala

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Members of ACT UP are organizing a protest at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala where the organization plans to celebrate a number of Fortune 500 companies highlighted in its problematic 2015 Corporate Equality Index. Representatives in attendance will receive awards for meeting the HRC’s guidelines that only require that corporations have basic equality measures, despite many having awful track records when it comes to their involvement in funding anti-LGBT legislation. In particular, the protesters are taking issue with the HRC’s seeming lack of widespread support for large-scale HIV awareness and prevention initiatives:

“We demand that HRC include several criteria to evaluate companies on their treatment of employees living with HIV, as well as their contributions to organizations and causes relate to reducing the incidence of HIV among LGBT Americans, particularly among the young,” the protest’s Facebook page reads. “For over 30 years, too many have been fired, harassed, outed and discriminated against at work for having HIV.” The promoters of the protest add,

“Also at this gala, many of the corporations that HRC will honor actively work against the interests of middle-class and poor Americans, including people with HIV. ACT UP denounces this frequent practice of '"pinkwashing" whereby corporations with policies and practices that undermine the people's well-being are given positive publicity in exchange for maintaining LGBT-friendly (or just equal) workplaces.

This is short-sighted and divisive. We demand that HRC develop other criteria that takes into account the impact of companies' policies on every American, not just LGBT Americans.”


Los Angeles Compulsory Condom Measure Is 'Legislating Problems That Don't Exist'

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In November 2012 Los Angeles County passed Measure B, which was directed at porn production in the county and required, among other things, that porn actors wear condoms during intercourse. A subsequent attempt to spread the mandate statewide with AB 1576 last year was voted down, despite the full and vocal support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

All of this has stirred up a variety of conversations, including the rights of grown adults to take risks, the responsibilities of their employers to protect them, the efficacy of condoms, and the utility and effectiveness of PrEP. Jim Pickett, director of Prevention Advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, is viewing all of this focus on the regulation of the porn industry as unnecessary, saying in an interview with TheBody.com:

I've never been a fan of legislating problems that don't exist. Condoms in or out of porn don't begin to address the approximately 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States every year, mostly among young, gay black men. This ruling does absolutely nothing for them and it ignores that we have a scientifically-proven, CDC-endorsed tool to prevent HIV called PrEP -- among other non-condom options. Condoms are only one method of protection; they are not alone.

There are certainly plausible arguments to be made for people wanting to emulate what they see in porn, as welll as for employers mandating measures to protect their employees, but the time, effort, and money spent into creating these measures and bills seem to come more from emotional reactions to change than genuine attempts to solve a problem. Or, perhaps more generously, are going about solving the problem of HIV transmission rates in the least effective way possible.


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