Friday, January 10, 2020

Stop the Stigma, Stop the Criminalization: Rally to Support Bail Reform and Stop HIV Stigma and Misinformation from CBS NY and Port Authority Police Department (PAPD)#EndStigma #BailReformNow #EndAIDS


Reginald reminding everyone that ignorance still equals death. 


                                                                Ivy Arce 


On January 10, 2020 a number of HIV services of organizations such as ACT UP NY, Bailey House, GMHC, Housing Works, VOCAL-NY and activists held a rally at noon in front of the CBS Headquarters in New York to demand accountability for the stigmatizing coverage. Activists are also demanding more information from the Port Authority Police Department and the Queens District Attorney’s Office. (Photo by Erik McGregor) — with Benjamin Heim Shepard and Reed Vreeland in New York, New York.
Bryn Marie photo and caption. It’s 2020 & mainstream media continues to spread misinformation & stigmatize people with #HIV! People living with HIV should NOT be criminalized & their status should NOT be used to add criminal charges or justify attempts to repeal bail reform. We demand CBS news reps to meet with us for a teach-in on how to accurately report HIV. HIV👏CANNOT 👏be 👏transmitted👏 through 👏saliva! Thanks to City Council Member Stephen Levin for standing in solidarity with us! #EndStigma #BailReformNow #EndAIDS

What do we want? No Stigma!
Stigma no! Bail reform yes!!!!
HIV Stigma is not ok. CBS has hell to pay!
ACTUP Fight Back Fight AIDS! — with Jason Rosenberg.
Stigma kills! — with Reginald Thomas Brown and Brandon Cuicchi.

My friend Reed sent an action alert from Housing Works.
It called for an action on Friday day.
Sent on Thursday, the action was the next day.
WHEN: Friday, January 10th at 12 PM
WHERE: CBS Headquarters at 51 West 52nd (corner of Sixth Avenue)
WHY: Late on Wednesday, CBS New York published a stigmatizing article and social media post about a recent arrest and altercation with Port Authority Police at LaGuardia Airport that inappropriately stigmatized HIV and promoted misinformation and fear of HIV transmission via saliva. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HIV is not transmittable by saliva and this fact has been known for decades.
The person who was arrested on suspicion of larceny LaGuardia Airport on Monday is described in the article as fighting and spitting at a Port Authority police officer and disclosing that they are HIV positive. No physical injuries to the police officer were described and no weapons were described. The person being arrested was charged with criminal mischief and assault in the second degree, which can refer to assault with a deadly weapon or assault with “intent to cause serious injury to someone.” HIV groups are making inquiries to the Queens District Attorney to determine if this is an HIV criminalization prosecution in which someone’s HIV status is being used to increase charges, despite no risk of transmission.
In the article, Port Authority Police Benevolent Association President Paul Nunziato is quoted using scientifically inaccurate language about transmission of HIV via saliva to argue against NY efforts to implement bail reform.
The initial version of the CBS New York article did not include accurate information about HIV transmission, but after push-back from HIV activists from ACT UP, GMHC, Housing Works and VOCAL on social media, CBS New York added a paragraph citing the National Institutes of Health, but did not retract other stigmatizing and misleading components of the article. The article also does not mention post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), an extremely effective HIV-prevention regimen that can be taken soon after potential exposure to HIV. PEP is available to police, medical workers, and the public, and the City even has a hotline to help people quickly access PEP.
On Friday, a number of HIV services of organizations and activists will hold a rally at noon in front of the CBS Headquarters at 51 West 52nd (corner of Sixth Avenue) to demand accountability for the stigmatizing coverage. Activists are also demanding more information from the Port Authority Police Department and the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
###
The action alert reminded me of those days two or three decades ago when  we got calls about people with HIV losing their homes, civil liberties, sexualities criminalized, usually around race, often around income or source of income, the poor bearing  the brunt of the stigma.
When I was a  social worker, I saw people with HIV, our clients have eggs thrown at the homes.
People turned away  from, their family members afraid to eat off their plates.
The ignorance was astounding.
But that was years ago.
Yet the attitude continues.

Ignorance still equals death.

In the face of this, ACT UP was not going to be quiet.
Yesterday, friends from ACT UP, Housing Works, Bailey House, GMHC, VOCAL-NY and others were there to remind CBS that ACT UP is still watching.

Silence still equals death.
These are the people who have fought the stigma, the quarantines, the panics, the attacks on the poor, outsiders, trans  folks, queers, immigrants, those on the peripheries.
We have fought HIV criminalization and prisons for years and will continue to do so.  

Sometimes there is nothing better than an old picket to  remind a target that opponents  exists. 
Our best tool is humiliation. 
We can still speak out.
And  invite media and make a stink they’d rather not have to address.

So we walked to CBS.
Reed,  Jason,  Reginald, Jason and Michelle Lopez  spoke,
Suggesting in  2020 we can’t act like its 1987 again.
Misinformation creates harm.
We don’t need  more  stigma.
People with  HIV are people.
HIV is a disease not a punishment,
a disease  which is manageable,
a disease hose transmission  is clear.

 “HIV Stigma is not ok. CBS has hell to pay!
“We’ll be back,” we chanted. “We’ll be back.

Afterward Reed summarized what happened.

“Today our strong community of HIV activists responded and picketed CBS New York when they printed misinformation that stigmatizes HIV. We are demanding that they apologize and conduct a teach in. We also need to continue to investigate the charging decisions of the Queens District Attorneys Bureau and call out the Port Authority Police representative's attempt to use fear around HIV to roll back bail reform. Thank You to City Council Member Stephen Levin for standing in solidarity with us!





































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