August 24, 2007
CAN I ASK YOU ONE QUESTION?
Frampton makes a personal connection
Two weeks ago, when Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards kicked off his bus tour through Iowa, there weren't too many folks around to hear his speech—Edwards had shown up an hour and a half late for the kickoff. But Des Moines resident Larry Frampton had hung around, and when Edwards finished, Frampton saw his chance. "Mr. Edwards," he said, "When are you going to post your position on domestic and global AIDS on your website?"
"I'll check into that," Edwards replied cordially."What's your name, sir?"
Frampton gave his name, then added, "And I'm a person living with AIDS for 18 years."
Then Edwards did something that took Frampton by surprise: He gave Frampton a hug and said, "We have a lot of work to do." Edwards also reminded Frampton that he supported full funding for the Ryan White CARE Act and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP). "I thanked him for saying all that," Frampton told the Update. "A lot of candidates wouldn't have acknowledged that there's work to be done."
Frampton's encounter with Edwards solidified his decision to vote for the well-coiffed former senator—and Frampton knows his candidates. In an attempt to win Iowa's critical presidential primary, most presidential hopefuls have spent their summer vacations courting the state's voters. Frampton is a member of the Community HIV Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network (CHAIN), and he and his fellow advocates have attended dozens of campaign speeches, exploiting their opportunities to question Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and others about their positions on AIDS, as well as press for a comprehensive domestic AIDS platform...
WRATH OF RAJNER
Rajner lets his conscience fly
When Campaign to End AIDS National Secretary Michael Rajner attended Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle's press conference this Tuesday, he intended to bite his tongue and merely listen to Naugle and his cronies spew ignorance about the "public health crisis" of men having sex in bathroom stalls. But when Faith2Action conservative radio host Janet Folger started lauding Naugle's family values, Rajner simply couldn't take it anymore.
Rajner pointed at Folger, Naugle and their allies from the group Healthy Public Places and began loudly decrying their press conference. He then declared, "I am a person living with AIDS and what you are saying is wrong! How you're demonizing people is wrong!" A heated exchange followed with Folger calling for Rajner to be removed. After a fed-up Rajner walked off, Folger said, "We care for those in the homosexual community. A few years ago, a gentleman came up to me and said, 'Janet, I was one of the people that protested you. I was in the homosexual community, but because of your boldness and ability to stand for the truth, I am now free from homosexuality.' So there is hope for change."
Rajner's disruption of the press conference earned widespread press coverage, including a piece in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and segments on local NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates. It also had the national gay press buzzing. Rajner appeared on the Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius Satellite Radio on Thursday. (Click here to watch the original press conference.) "I'm proud to have been a disruption," Rajner told the Update. "It needed to be done."...
Spitzer made the wrong call
Despite a glimmer of hope that he might do otherwise, late last week Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed into law a bill (S-6357 and A-9256) that allows rape suspects to be forcibly tested for HIV. As documented in the Update and elsewhere, the legislations hurts rape survivors it pretends to protect by misleading them about critical decisions regarding their health and possible HIV infection. The bill was opposed by major AIDS and women's health and antiviolence groups.
Spitzer released a statement Thursday explaining his decision. "Victims of sexual assault have a right to information that impacts their health, ability to receive timely treatment and peace of mind," Spitzer said. "This law provides greater support to victims by making available critical health related information, treatment and counseling."
In fact, one of the flaws of the law is that it fails to expand the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, to rape survivors. PEP is a course of antiretrovirals that can prevent HIV infection if taken shortly after exposure to the virus. The law also goes against New York State Health Department AIDS Institute PEP recommendations.
Those who fought the legislation were saddened to hear about Spitzer's decision—and worried about the consequences.
Alandra Mitchell, an HIV-positive rape survivor who wrote an op-ed in the Albany Times-Union opposing the bill, was outraged. "I am bitterly upset," Mitchell said. "How can Spitzer try to speak for people who have been raped?"...