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Whitman-Walker names new communications director

Shawn Jain, communications, Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

Shawn Jain (Photo courtesy of Shawn Jain)

Whitman-Walker Health this week announced it has hired Shawn Jain as its new director of communications. He will lead internal and external communications and marketing efforts for the organization.

“Having worked in the communications department for the International AIDS Conference held in Washington a few years ago, I saw first-hand the impact of HIV on the local community and became familiar with the groundbreaking work being done at Whitman-Walker,” Jain said in a release. “Simply stated, Whitman-Walker is an institution in Washington. I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that has already made its mark in history as a healthcare leader and pioneer. I look forward to enhancing Whitman-Walker Health’s communications operation.”

After his work at AIDS 2012, Jain served as a media strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union. He lives in Washington.

“We are pleased to have Shawn on our team,” said Don Blanchon, executive director of WWH, in a statement. “He brings experience that will allow Whitman-Walker to increase the public’s awareness of the breadth and depth of our health center operations and ensure that WWH is reaching the community effectively and strategically.”


Mayoral candidates to hold LGBT ‘meet & greet’ events

Muriel Bowser, David Catania, Carol Schwartz, D.C. mayoral candidates, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. mayoral candidates Muriel Bowser (D), David Catania (I) and Carol Schwartz (I) are each holding LGBT meet and greet events over the next several weeks. (Washington Blade photos of Bowser and Catania by Michael Key; photo of Schwartz by Pete Exis)

Gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson is co-hosting a Young Professionals Meet & Greet for D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania (I-At-Large) on Thursday evening, July 31.

Hudson says the event, to be held at the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund headquarters downtown, is expected to attract mostly LGBT young professionals.

The Catania meet & greet is one of a series of such events that LGBT supporters of Catania and his two leading rivals in the mayor’s race – City Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and former Council member Carol Schwartz, Republican turned independent – are planning to host over the next two months.

Gay businessman and LGBT activist Everett Hamilton, who’s supporting Bowser, and longtime gay rights and AIDS activist Cornelius Baker, who’s backing Schwartz, said several LGBT meet & greet receptions are being planned for their respective candidates in the next several weeks.

Baker said he’s hosting a Schwartz meet & greet at his home on July 27, just days after he was to return to Washington from attending the International AIDS Conference in Australia. Hamilton said Bowser hosted a transgender community meet & greet at her own home earlier this month and several of her supporters are planning more such events for the full LGBT community in the coming weeks.

All three candidates have been longtime supporters of LGBT rights. Catania and Schwartz supporters argue that their respective candidates have been involved in LGBT issues longer than Bowser, whom most political observers consider to be the frontrunner in the race at this time.

Bowser’s LGBT supporters argue that she is younger than Schwartz and Catania and hasn’t held elective office as long as they have but nevertheless has a strong pro-LGBT record during her tenure on the Council.

Gay mayoral candidate Bruce Majors, who’s running for the Libertarian Party, says he’s been an LGBT rights advocate for many years and also has been reaching out to the LGBT community for support.


Study finds Truvada adherence difficult to maintain

Truvada, Gilead, gay news, Washington Blade

Truvada (Photo courtesy of Gilead).

WASHINGTON — Men and transgender women who have sex with men who took Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) four or more days a week were 100 percent protected against HIV in a recent study, AIDSmeds reports. However, participants actually took Truvada that frequently just 33 percent of the time during the 72-week trial, and overall adherence declined throughout the study.

Daily adherence to Truvada was detected just 12 percent of the time. When considering all participants who received Truvada, regardless of their adherence, the study showed that PrEP lowered the risk of acquiring HIV by about half, the HIV care journal reports.

Uptake of Truvada was high at 76 percent, and those at higher risk of HIV were more likely to take the drug. However, in an accompanying editorial in the Lancet, Dr. Raphael J. Landovitz of the UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, asked if such uptake was high enough, considering all the participants had come from previous clinical trials of PrEP, making them more likely to take the drug than the average person at risk or HIV, the AIDS MEDS article said.

One study participant who took Truvada contracted HIV and developed resistance to the drug.

Publishing their findings in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers from the open-label extension phase of the iPrEx study (iPrEx OLE) enrolled 1,603 participants from three previous PrEP studies and offered them the chance to take daily Truvada if they were HIV negative. Participants were enrolled between June 2011 and June 2012. The study results were also presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.


Year in review: D.C. hosts International AIDS Conference

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Uganda

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Ugandan human rights advocates at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than 30,000 people from around the world gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. in July for the International AIDS Conference.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Laura Bush, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,) Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg and gay singer Elton John were among the politicians, public health officials and others who spoke during the gathering that took place in the United States for the first time since San Francisco hosted it in 1990. (President Obama in 2009 completed the process that lifted the ban on people with HIV/AIDS from entering the country.)

Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. officials used the conference to highlight the city’s ongoing efforts to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the nation’s capital. The NAMES Project showcased tens of thousands of panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt throughout the metropolitan area in July, while the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other HIV/AIDS service providers protested what they contend is a lack of commitment from the White House and other American politicians to combat the epidemic. U.S. Park Service police arrested Housing Works President Charles King and 12 others who tried to tie red ribbons, condoms and other items to the White House fence following a protest in Lafayette Park.

The 20th International AIDS Conference is scheduled to take place in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2014.


Year in Review: 2012 Photography

2012 was another momentous year in LGBT News. Here are some of the highlights of the year from the Washington Blade photo archive. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key, Blake Bergen, Pete Exis, Jonathan Ellis and Ann Little)buyphoto 


2012 was a very good year

It was an interesting year in so many ways. Looking back made me realize the first thing I did was accept reaching the age when many people retire. I contemplated that for about 10 minutes before moving on to more relevant thoughts. After all, life was still fun, my job still interesting and writing was still something I enjoy.

Each month of the year brought with it some new events to focus on. Overriding everything was the election. In January, I wondered why we should care what the Iowa caucus results were — and I am still wondering. That was about the same time the pizza guy flamed out over his transgressions with a series of women. The ups and downs of the Republican debates were fascinating in a macabre way, like watching a train wreck is fascinating. Some of the candidates faded faster than others including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann (not fast enough), Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Others like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum hung around longer and used the eventual nominee Mitt Romney as a piñata dragging him further to the right all to the eventual benefit of President Obama.

Then there was Foundry United Methodist Church’s fight for LGBT rights within the Methodist Church. While they lost that fight we can all be thankful for the ongoing work of Foundry and their Senior Pastor Dean Snyder. In May, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a leading member of the American Psychological Association, wrote an apology (better late than never) that admitted he was wrong when he authored a study supporting “reparative therapy” for gays. That study harmed unknown numbers of young gay men who were subjected to this phony therapy and still are in some areas.

June brought Pride with its festivals and parades and the knowledge that we now had a president who supported marriage equality and was willing to stand up and tell the world. There was also the decision by the Supreme Court to declare “Obamacare” constitutional. In his statements on the Affordable Care Act as well as other comments Justice Scalia again showed why he should be impeached.

July brought the International AIDS Conference to the United States for the first time in 20 years. There were meetings and talk about how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS and recognition of how far we still had to go. There was the announcement of the first patient, called the “Berlin Patient” who has reportedly been cured and the discussion of spending more money on finding a cure and not just finding a vaccine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the conference and to great applause spoke of a generation without AIDS being within reach.

In August we watched the spectacle of the Republican Convention in which they approved a platform clearly more appropriate for the 19th century than the 21st. They highlighted their fight against women and the LGBT community and selected the Romney/Ryan ticket, which proved a colossal mistake.

The election was going fine for the Democrats until the first presidential debate, when President Obama barely showed up. An election thought to be in the bag suddenly became a nail biter for a short while. But those of us who are Nate Silver fans soon understood that President Obama was going to win a second term and do so fairly easily. The bonus was winning marriage referenda in four states and gaining House seats and two Senate seats as well.

All in all, a good year yet it ended with so many things left to be done. Some are easy and can be done with the stroke of a pen like the president signing an executive order to ban discrimination in federal contracting. Others — like setting the nation on a course to fiscal solvency — will take negotiation and perseverance and require our help as we pressure Congress to act.

But at midnight on Dec. 31, as we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, let us all drink a toast to the year past and say a prayer and pledge to each other that in the year to come we will keep up the good fight for equality and will do everything in our power to make the world a safer and healthier place for all.