Friday, May 22, 2015

Houston, we have a problem!!!!



Apparently the state of Texas has declared OPEN SEASON on people living with HIV.

Photo credit: Disney


During the current state legislative session (that is still ongoing), we saw not one, not two, but THREE disturbing HIV related bills introduced, all of which related to violation of privacy and were basically HIV criminalization bills. One of these bills, #SB779, passed the Texas Senate AND the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and is at risk as we speak of becoming law. 

During this same legislative session, state legislators undermined Texas public health by attempting to gut much-needed HIV funding. Fortunately, largely due to vocal advocates around the state, this funding was saved - but the fact that it was at the very real risk of being lost is extremely telling. 

Outside of the legislature, Texas has declared war on the HIV community in additional ways. Earlier this month, the University of Texas demanded that the lab used for HIV therapeutic, co-infection and HIV cure research be immediately vacated - putting vital HIV research at risk of being forced on hold for nearly a month. Fortunately, the hardworking research site staff were able to work quickly to identify an alternative site, shut down operations, relocate, and resume their important work. 

NOW University of Texas is forcing the same HIV research site staff OUT of its offices. The state has been content to pocket the millions of federal research dollars that this ACTG research site - one of only TWO in our ENTIRE STATE - brings in, but has repeatedly engaged in microaggressions such as those that I've described here, and several others - against the dedicated HIV research staff who are housed in Houston's world-renowned Texas Medical Center and at Thomas Street. The loss of office space will not only hurt the staff, but it will hurt the HIV research clients, many of whom are already from marginalized communities (i.e. people of color, LGBTQ* individuals, women, youth, former inmates, etc).

It's time for targeted action, and NOW. The debacle with #SB779 has already demonstrated where some in our state stand with regard to HIV criminalization. Now they are putting our HIV research - which is the ONLY way we will achieve a cure - at risk. This needs to stop. 

It's a Friday night and it's short notice. But we need a battle plan and we need one NOW. 
Please join Advocacy Without Borders and Living Large in Houston TONIGHT for a meeting about Advocating for HIV Clinical Trials. 

Can't come physically? Join us via FREE Conference Call at 6:30 pm Central.

Dial in number: 641-715-3580
Pin: 949-657-779
Coming in person? The meeting will be held Friday, May 22, 2015 from 6:30 pm to ~ 8:00 pm at: 

The Montrose Center
First Floor, Room 114
401 Branard Street
Houston, Texas 77006

Please join in with us to OPPOSE the OPEN SEASON on Texas' HIV community!!!!