New York Times: Expanding HIV Treatment Necessary And Overdue

This hasn’t taken that long.

I’m blaming Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The news that HIV treatment is prevention has taken a remarkably short time to hit the mainstream media, and it’s due to Secretary Clinton’s address to the NIH last month, and the President of The United States.

The NYT:

President Barack Obama announces a new compreh...

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Important new findings show that very early treatment of people infected with H.I.V. enhances their health and greatly lessens the likelihood that they will spread the virus that causes AIDS. We welcome the Obama administration’s announcement of a farsighted effort to treat millions more infected people abroad, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The administration expects that the expanded treatments can be paid for with existing resources, by pushing for greater efficiencies and more financing from recipient nations. But if that effort stalls, the administration should re-evaluate quickly whether to ask Congress for money.

… Mr. Obama also announced that he would commit an additional $50 million in this country in fiscal year 2012 to help pay for treatments at AIDS clinics and in-state programs that provide AIDS drugs to people who can’t afford them. The money may be drawn from $1 billion available through the health care reform law.

Working to get these changes made legislatively have proven impossible in a Republican-owned House and a Republican-bullied Senate- especially when it involves the health of gay and bisexual men- so policy and administrative action were required. And by beginning to make testing and immediate treatment for HIV routine, medical practices are established that will be hard to take back.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans were infected with the virus at latest count, of whom 240,000 people are unaware. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started a campaign last week to increase testing with special emphasis on warning black gay and bisexual men, whose infection rates have been soaring, to get tested and treated.

Meanwhile, the New York City Health Department became the second (after San Francisco’s) to recommend doctors offer drug therapy immediately to every person diagnosed as infected, instead of waiting for the virus to damage their immune systems. The city has made enormous strides in testing, treating and cutting the number of new infections. Some 110,000 infected residents are under treatment; aggressive testing might find another 2,500 immediately and perhaps 500 a year thereafter.

The investments here and abroad should pay off in the long run by reducing the number of people infected and easing the severity of illnesses.

Thanks to you both.


HB 516 “Probably” Dead

The Associated Press:

A Republican senator says a measure to overturn a Missoula city ordinance that protects gay people from discrimination lacks support from GOP leadership.

The Senate Local Government Committee passed House Bill 516 last week. But the bill was returned to the committee Tuesday and chairman Sen. Jon Sonju says it is doubtful the measure will go to the Senate floor.

Sonju says he moved the measure back to committee because it doesn’t have the support of Senate leaders.

The proposal, carried by Republican Rep. Kristin Hansen, drew lengthy testimony during its hearings in the House and Senate.

Supporters said the bill would overturn an unconstitutional ordinance that infringes on the state’s authority.

Opponents said the measure is targeted against the gay community and interferes with local governments’ ability to govern.

And from the Billings Gazette, the travails of poor Rep Kris Hansen:

Hansen told reporters Wednesday that she intends to ask that the bill be brought back to the full Senate for a debate.

Also on Wednesday, at a meeting of House Republicans, Hansen played a threatening voice mail she had received regarding HB516. She said she turned it over to the Helena Police Department, which is subpoenaing the phone records. If they find who left the message, the lawmaker said she would ask that charges be brought against the caller.

The voice mail, from what appeared to be a male caller, said:

“Here are some of my thoughts for you. If I were you, I would stop spreading hate and intolerance and bigotry against people and their loved ones. The Bible says you reap what you sow, and you and your loved ones are going to get that hate back and then who knows what might happen to you.”

It ended with an insult against her that contained with some obscenities.

“That’s not isolated,” Hansen said. “I get regularly, sometimes daily. I’ve also been accosted twice in Helena by members in opposition to 516 in my face, shaking their fingers in public places, in restaurants, calling me all of these names and more.”

That’s nothing- we LGBT people have been putting up with this all our lives. Wimp.

Illegal No More?

Balancing the week, indeed. The Montana State Senate voted to strike the obsolete law criminalizing the gay.

The Montana Supreme Court struck down the law in 1997, and Senate Bill 276 carried by Sen. Tom Facey would remove it from state code. The Missoula Democrat said the measure would provide equal protection under the law for all Montanans.

The Senate endorsed the bill 41-9 with 19 of 28 Senate Republicans supporting the measure. It has one more usually procedural vote before it goes to the House.

Republican backing for the measure goes against years of support for outlawing homosexual acts, which became part of the official party platform after the 1997 Supreme Court decision.

We’ll see if House Republicans want to make a point out of this one…