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FDA Approves Further Study Of Promising Gene Therapy HIV Treatment

Whitecell

Experimental stem cell gene therapy that could act as functional cure for HIV infection has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to move into early human test trials. Unlike other treatments that use healthy stem cells from uninfected donors, this form of therapy uses cells harvested from a positive person’s own body. The stem cells are genetically manipulated to develop into white blood cells that are missing the key cellular receptors that the HIV virus uses to insert its genetic code into healthy cells. The modification effectively models a HIV-positive person’s white blood cells after the cells of people who have a natural resistance to HIV.

After introducing the modified white blood cells into a positive person’s bloodstream, researchers reason, the cells would naturally proliferate, effectively revitalizing their immune system to be able to fend off the virus indefinitely. A small testing pool of 12 volunteers have undergone the therapy in controlled trials being conducted by Calimmune, a California-based pharmaceutical research firm.

The preliminary results have been promising, with uncompromised white blood cells remaining present in test subjects’ bloodstreams for up to four years. In theory, later versions of the treatment would result in permanent rejuvenation of healthy cells after a single round of treatment.

The FDA’s authorization of further tests means that a larger group of people will be able to participate in a future study exploring the therapy’s efficacy. As of now trials are planned for California’s City of Hope medical research center with funding help from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“This kind of work is too important to just try one method at a time and sit back and wait to see if it is effective,” CIRM board chair Dr. Jonathan Thomas explained to Imperial Valley News. “We have a mission to find treatments for patients in need. By trying several different approaches, taking several shots at goal at the same time if you like, we feel we have a better chance of being successful.”


Equality California Becomes First LGBT Organization to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President in 2016

Clinton

Equality California has taken a preemptive step in the 2016 race for the White House and become the first LGBT organization to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, the group confirmed in a statement today:

"We want Hillary Clinton to run and are ready to mobilize our 800,000 members to help her win," said Equality California's Executive Director Rick Zbur. "We're enthusiastic about her candidacy because she has the best record of accomplishment on LGBT issues of any potential candidate. Equality California is ready for Hillary!"

As Secretary of State, Clinton championed the rights of LGBT people around the world, making LGBT rights and acceptance a global priority. In 2011, Sec. Clinton gave a historic speech on International Human Rights Day at the United Nations in Geneva, saying: "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

Under Sec. Clinton's leadership, the Department of State used its full range of diplomatic and development tools to combat violence and discrimination against LGBT people worldwide. Thanks to her efforts, LGBT rights became a core principle of U.S. foreign policy in an unprecedented way.

Throughout her career in public service, she has been a champion for LGBT equality and acceptance within the United States. In a video message, Sec. Clinton states "I believe America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being - that's who we are, it's in our DNA."

EQCA also included a two-page fact sheet on Clinton's record on LGBT issues, which Chris Johnson over at the Washington Blade notes does not mention the late timing of her endorsement of marriage equality in March 2013. Clinton was one of the last big name Democrats to do so. 


San Diego Man Accused of Knowingly Spreading HIV Pleads 'No Contest'

Guerra

Thomas Miguel Guerra, a 30 year old man thought to have knowingly exposed a former partner to HIV, has entered a plea of “no contest” in a court hearing for his violation of California’s health code. Guerra is due to be sentenced on the 13th of April and is facing up to six months in prison along with a $1,000 fee. Previously he’d been ordered to cease any and all activity on online social networks commonly used to find sexual partners.

Guerra’s sentencing will be a first for San Diego, said a representative for the Attorney General’s office. While the city had never tried someone for forcible HIV exposure through sex, the representative explained, the Office was confident in its case’s ability to establish a story proving that Guerra knew what he was doing by having unprotected sex with his partner.

Establishing credibility for cases like this is exceedingly difficult given the events at hand. According to Guerra’s former partner, he first entered into a relationship with Guerra in 2013. In an effort to assuage the man’s concerns Guerra assured him that he was, in fact HIV negative. By May of 2013 the man, who had previously been HIV negative, learned that he was newly positive and insisted that the only man he’d been intimate with was Guerra.

Typically this is where these cases fall apart, as Guerra could easily claim that his partner was exposed to the virus from outside of their relationship. The man, however, claims to have been contacted by another man via Facebook informing him that Guerra was positive. The man dug deeper into Guerra’s life and soon found:

"Texts where he's stating he's negative to people then bragging to others about giving people his 'positive load. It's crude, it's...I don't know how someone could treat another individual like that."

Guerra is thought to have knowingly exposed at least 24 other men.


California Attorney Files Ballot Measure Calling For Execution Of All Gays: VIDEO

You read that headline correctly.

A California attorney has filed a proposed ballot measure with the state Attorney General’s office asking voters to criminalize homosexuality and impose the death penalty, reports LGBTQ Nation.

CAdeathpenaltygaysThe “Sodomite Suppression Act” filing will allow Matthew G. McLaughlin to start the process of collecting the roughly 365,000 signatures (around 5 percent of the electorate) required to put the measure on an upcoming ballot. 

McLaughlin’s unbelievable proposal states:

“The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.

“The People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.

CA“This law shall be known as ‘The Sodomite Suppression Act’ and be numbered as section 29 in Title 3 of the Penal Code, pertaining to offenses against the sovereignty of the state. The text shall be prominently posted in every public school classroom. ALL laws in conflict with this law are to that extent invalid.”

McLaughlin is on active status with the State Bar for California but the address he provides routes to a Mailbox Express store rather than a law office.

In 2004, McLaughlin filed for a ballot measure to put the King James Bible in the hands of public school students as a literary text.

The 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas ruled that same-sex sexual activity is legal. That decision cannot be overturned by a simple ballot initiative in California.

Watch a report on Lawrence v. Texas, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "California Attorney Files Ballot Measure Calling For Execution Of All Gays: VIDEO" »


California GOP Tells Log Cabin Republicans 'Get Out Of The Back Of The Bus,' Votes to Formally Recognize Gay Group

LCR

In a move that drew comparisons to Rosa Parks and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the California Republican Party voted this weekend to officially recognize the Log Cabin Republicans. 

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.

It is among the first gay groups officially sanctioned by a state Republican Party.

Brandon Gesicki, a delegate from Carmel who supported the effort, said the vote showed how much the party in California has changed in recent years.

“It would have been the complete opposite 15 years ago,” said Gesicki, who also turned in a proxy vote from former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado supporting the recognition. “The fringe does not control the party anymore. We truly are a big tent once again.”

The victory for Log Cabin in California comes on the heels of the national group's exclusion (then re-admittance) as Conservative Political Action Conference sponsor this year. 

The LA Times reports that despite the decision to charter Log Cabin, the California GOP platform still includes anti-LGBT language: 

John Briscoe, president of the socially conservative California Republican Assembly, pointed to Log Cabin’s support of same-sex marriage.

“I have a hard time understanding how we’re going to charter an organization that’s in opposition to our platform,” he said during the debate.

The party’s official platform says homosexuality is unacceptable.

“We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption,” the platform says.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that while some social conservatives like Briscoe voiced strong opposition to the decision, the vast majority of those attending the state GOP convention supported it. 

And, many said, their inclusion was long overdue.

“We’re Republicans,” said Brandon Gesicki, a longtime GOP strategist. “We’re not East Germany.”

“Get out of the back of the bus,” said Scott Wilk, Republican Assembly Caucus chair to the Log Cabin group at the close of the debate. “You deserve a seat.”

Watch the announcement of the group's charter, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "California GOP Tells Log Cabin Republicans 'Get Out Of The Back Of The Bus,' Votes to Formally Recognize Gay Group" »


Scott Hines, Out Former Mayor Of Rancho Mirage, California, Dies Following Battle With Depression: VIDEO

Scott Hines

Scott Hines, the gay former mayor of Rancho Mirage, California, died last Saturday night following a battle with depression, reports the Desert Sun.

581985_3530204861565_416052484_nScott Hines was elected to the City Council in April 2010 and served one term. During the 2010 campaign, residents received fliers encouraging them not to let Hines "infect" the city, a message interpreted by many as an attack on the gay community.

Hines, who served as an Air Force intelligence officer until the early 2000s, worked to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless and a number of LGBT issues. In 2013, he appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the U.S. Air Force employment of "ex-gay" therapist Dr. Mike Rosebush as head of the Center for Character and Leadership Development.

Writing on Facebook, Hines' husband, Kevin Blessing, said:

"I am less of a person today as I will no longer have this man's wonderful energy around me, at the same time I am so blessed to have had him in my life in the first place."

Blessing also said that Hines had been suffering from liver cancer.

His biological mother Cindy Gough Montgomery (above right, with Hines) also wrote about her son's death:

Scott hines_2

Watch Hines on The Rachel Maddow Show, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Scott Hines, Out Former Mayor Of Rancho Mirage, California, Dies Following Battle With Depression: VIDEO" »


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