Peter Staley Hub




HIV And Gay-On-Gay Shaming

As HIV becomes a more and more managable disease and the horror of the 80s AIDS epidemic slides further into history, younger gay men are treating the disease as a divisive stigma rather than a uniting issue, writes Peter Staley at the Huffington Post:

StaleyHere are salvos from a new battle: Calling a young, HIV-negative gay man a "Truvada whore" simply for choosing a prevention option with a higher efficacy rate than condoms. Becoming indignant when someone says AIDS is still a gay problem. Turning to the police when you find out the guy that just jilted you is HIV-positive. Putting "I'm clean, ub2" in your online profile. Joining digital stonings via online comment sections when a 20-something dares to come out as HIV-positive. HIV-negative guys barebacking with those who tell them they are negative and shunning the few brave ones who admit they're positive.

Staley analyzes this internal war among gay men, concerned that the war against HIV-related stigma is lost and can only be prevented from getting worse.

He adds:

It might surprise today's younger gay men to learn that there was very little HIV-related stigma between us during the early years of the crisis. If anything, I felt the opposite of stigma when I publicly disclosed my status in the late '80s. Gay men with HIV received communal love and support. Once the gospel of safe sex was firmly entrenched, even sexual shunning became rare. Maybe it was our numbers, with upwards of half of New York's and San Francisco's gay men being HIV-positive by 1985. Maybe it was because many of us couldn't hide it, as our HIV painfully manifested as AIDS. Maybe it was our communal fighting back, as we rose up against a government that was ignoring our suffering.

Regardless of the reasons, we felt like one community. We were all living with HIV, regardless of status. I realize this view is skewed. I lived in a city where the social norms were being heavily influenced by ACT UP and other community responses to the crisis. The beginnings of gay-on-gay HIV-related stigma could be easily found in other cities and towns back then. But now it seems to be the norm, regardless of location.

Staley does offer some hope and suspects that while the fight against ignorance-induced stigma is lost, the fight against HIV itself is not, citing the eradication of smallpox and near-eradication of Guinea worm disease as a future outcome for HIV provided ALL tools of prevention are used.

In the end, after HIV is defeated, he says,

[T]here will be two kinds of people remembered: those who fought to end it, and those who slowed us down.

What do you think? Is there a way to end HIV stigma? And are there more elements contributing to stigma than the ones Staley has named?

Read Staley's full piece here.

(image - Peter Staley in the HIV Equal campaign)


Check Out These Stunning Interactive Maps of the State of HIV/AIDS in America

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Writing today in the Washington Post, pioneer AIDS activist Peter Staley calls for the LGBT community to recommit itself to fighting HIV and AIDS after this week's landmark wins for marriage equality at the Supreme Court:

[I]n our exaltation over wedded bliss, we are forgetting another kind of “til death do us part”: the bonds that tie us together as a group, across social strata, race and generations — the same bonds that helped us fight AIDS.

During the worst years of the AIDS crisis, from 1981 to the advent of effective medications in 1996, the gay community forged a new definition of love: It encompassed traditional romantic love, but it went beyond the love between two people. 

Today, though, we’re so caught up in the giddiness of the marriage-equality movement that we’ve abandoned the collective fight against HIV and AIDS.

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Staley notes that the country's largest LGBT rights groups have pivoted almost exclusively to marriage equality, pointing out that the most recent annual reports from the three largest organizations--the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)--make no mention of the words 'HIV' or "AIDS.'

It's true that advances in HIV treatment have helped HIV-positive individuals live long, healthy lives.  But 15,000 people die of AIDS every year in the United States, and more than 1 million people in this country are living with the disease.  The issue continues to be more acutely felt in the LGBT community specifically--as Staley points out, more than half of today's college-aged gay men will be HIV-positive by age 50 if current infection rates remain constant.

In light of those numbers, AIDSVu has a fantastic and eye-opening new set of interactive maps that show the density of people living with HIV across the U.S. on a county-by-county basis.  You can play around with the maps by looking at individual states and even some major cities, as well as filtering results based on factors like age, race, sex, education, income and health insurance.

Here's the AIDSVu map for New York City.  Hopefully these data will be seen widely and will help spur a conversation in our community about the importance of highlighting HIV and AIDS as ongoing issues that affect all LGBT Americans.

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(photos courtesy of AIDSVu)


'How to Survive a Plague' to Become ABC Miniseries

David France's acclaimed documentary How to Survive a Plague is being developed into ABC's first miniseries in more than five years, reports the Hollywood Reporter:

StaleyIdeally, the scripted adaptation, which is in its early days of development, will go broader and deeper. “We know we’d like it to be an extended story that’s not just about AIDS and what AIDS wrought but about this tremendous civil rights movement that grew from the ashes of AIDS and the dawn of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement,” France tells The Hollywood Reporter.

His producing partner Howard Gertler echoes that sentiment. "We’re excited about the opportunity to delve into more of the personal stories of the characters that you followed in the documentary," he says. "People got a sense from the doc that many of the activists were soldiers drafted into a war that perhaps they were not ready to fight but that they had trained themselves for, and we really want to show a wide audience how that happened."

France had been toying with the idea of a TV adaptation for more than a year, but at that time the miniseries genre was of little appeal to networks.

And there's more footage to be revealed:

Much like the film, the mini-series -- which will count France, Gertler and new addition John Lyons as executive producers -- will offer unfettered access to an array of never-before-seen footage from the 1980s and ’90s. "These activists may have had to train themselves for the battle, but they were incredibly media savvy and were constantly filming everything," explains Lyons. "So there's this treasure trove of this archival material, which we think can be cleverly introduced into the storytelling."


Peter Staley Eulogizes AIDS Activist Spencer Cox: VIDEO

Staley

On Sunday, a memorial was held at NYC's Cutting Room for AIDS activist and ACT UP spokesman Spencer Cox, who died in mid-December of AIDS-related causes.

CoxCox was a member of ACT UP's Treatment & Data committee and later co-founded the Treatment Action Group (TAG), becoming a "citizen scientist" who wrote the drug trial protocol proposed for testing protease inhibitors in 1995 which was adopted by the pharmaceutical industry.

Cox was featured in David France's award-winning documentary How to Survive a Plague, as was his friend and fellow ACT UP activist Peter Staley. Staley delivered a movingeulogy for Cox at this weekend's memorial, called "Grief is a Sword".

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

And there's a transcript on HuffPost.

Continue reading "Peter Staley Eulogizes AIDS Activist Spencer Cox: VIDEO" »


Ed Koch Wants Larry Kramer to Get Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ed Koch reviews How to Survive a Plague but fails to mention his own failed response to the AIDS crisis and its role in the film. Koch suggests, too, that Larry Kramer and other AIDS activists should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Kramer responds in the post's comments, calling the closeted Koch "a murderer of his very own people."

DeathsKoch writes:

The person who makes the greatest impact in the film because of his superb speaking ability is Peter Staley. In his New York Times review of this movie, Stephen Holden describes Staley as: "A former closeted Wall Street bond trader with H.I.V. who left his job and helped found the Treatment Action Group, an offshoot of Act Up. Self-taught in the science of AIDS, the group collaborated with pharmaceutical companies like Merck in the development of new drugs."
 
Others named in the Times' review as major leaders of Act Up, which began its activities in 1987, are Larry Kramer, Robert Rafsky and Ann Northrop, all of whom appear in the film. I don't know if these individuals were ever honored by the White House for what they did in fighting government and powerful corporations. If not, I urge President Obama to do so by presenting them and other leaders recognized by Act Up with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Staley responds, in Poz:

Amazing how he fails to mention his own shameful role in this film, or this history...

And Larry Kramer responds, in the Poz post's comments:

What is this evil man up to as he approaches his death? Is he trying to make up to us? National Medals of Freedom from the White House! Would these provide a big enough enema to clean out his rotten insides? We must never forget that this man was an active participant in helping us to die, in murdering us. Call it what you will, that is what Edward Koch was, a murderer of his very own people. There is no way to avoid knowing that now. The facts have long since been there staring us in the face. If we don't see them, then we are as complicit as he.


How to Survive a Plague: VIDEO

Staley

How To Survive a Plague, David France's chronicle of ACT-UP and the battle to find life-saving drugs at the height of the AIDS crisis, gets an official trailer today.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "How to Survive a Plague: VIDEO" »


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