found poem 2

from a may 2001 national geographic story about jaguars on mexico’s yucatan peninsula:

‘i would like to be the jaguar of your mountains
and take you to my dark cave
open your chest there
and see if you have a heart’

and a song called ‘shelter’ by ray lamontagne:

‘left you heartbroken, but not until those very words were spoken

Has anybody ever made such a fool out of you’

so, this is the found poem in response to a visit from my parents and all that surrounded it (a reminder that for all my lessons sometimes i just can’t believe). i heard the song at dinner, and found the magazine in my hallway in a pile about to be recycled:

you must be the jaguar
coming here so many years, to this dark place
where you open me up
gazing, you ask me to say it again
yes, yes i’m still a fool

or my mountains
you have been standing by for years
i see your hot tears
but even lava could not hurt me
i remain, amazingly, still not perfect

or perhaps my cave
that black place i go to because i cannot lie
where when i speak of love
i mean it unconditionally
you should see the night from here

but i’d have sworn you were my heart
i’ve watched that foolish rhythm smiling
don’t ask me to dance
i still wonder if you are real at all
or a myth to make me less a danger to myself

you, the shelter no one knows i’ve been running to
you, the song i keep singing to myself
this is the world i made
with the gifts you gave me
this is the world i always wanted

my church

sanctuary: central park, aids walk

just got home from the aids walk, which is still my favorite event in the world. its the best gathering of people ever. fabulosity and dogs and babies and folks wearing their in remembrance of shirts and cheerleaders and people singing and hobbling and sashaying and its just the best convergence, i get those humanity-and-god-up-my-spine chills the whole time. each time i have more people to walk for, but remarkably – and perhaps foolishly – each time i feel more human, like i’ve seen more perseverance and innovation. amidst the constant loss there is more life than ever. this time i walked with jenn, piper, naina and shane. it was thick today, the air was literally heavy on us and the sky was holding a storm in her skirt but she let us just make it all the way through and spend a minute on the grass. seeing all those people turn out with the threat of thunderstorms, all the kids, all the families. i never regret waking up for this walk.

hymn – listen to citizen cope ‘my way home’:

Sometimes I miss a step
I stumble here and there
I’m findin’ my way home
If I’m lost then I’ll admit
Sometimes i plain forget
I’m findin’ my way home
You can try and stand in my way
You can say what you’re gonna say
But I’m finding my way home

and then go to confession:

http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

hallelujah. amen.

why bother?

written in response to a friend who was asking about the point of integrity if the human race is on a downward spiral:

wow.
this is a lot. i’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot too, and i think when you come to town and we have our date i would love to focus on this, for real. but my short, quick answer is kind of what i wrote in the stop the next war book, which is that two things need to happen. first is that we can’t really survive more of the wishy washy stuff, people need to really develop a revolutionary analysis and those of us who have started on one need to pass it along WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. and the second thing is that we have to WAKE UP with the analysis and find the BEST working strategies, not the same old shit, not the left version of right shit, but the best of all of our times, the best innovations. we have to really work in strategy, not in ideology…and we have to work with real people, not just agree in our academic/activist/artist circles. i think that people who become too deeply mired in only observing and theorizing on humanity in hopes that UNDERSTANDING will change it…they become less real, have a less real human experience. but then again i have been working hard on developing my faith in a power – or i think consciousness is the better word for it – higher and more developed and comprehensive than my own. it allows me to feel i can ask questions that i am not responsible for answering. to have hope when there is no reason. to look for a way when i can see none – and so far the way gets uncovered, the hope fills me up, the constant answer comes back (all is known, all is unknown – these are the constant conclusions of my heart when its open).

all that said, in response to your question as i hear it (‘what good is my good doing?’), one of my most encouraging quotes to return to, and i am paraphrasing, is from octavio paz’s speech when he won the nobel prize, which is this: given what we know of time and human development (that there is a past, present, future – that we look back to some set of people as being in the middle ages) then aren’t we some future generation’s middle/dark age. i think at first that isn’t a heartening quote, but i’ll tell you how it works out in my head – while we are fumbling and feeling earnestly modern, we also grasp at least on a subconscious level the temporary-ness of our times by looking at the arc of our own short histories and how different we are, how differently we see things from when we were ‘young’, teen-agers, and so on. movementwise, in our century alone we can see massive peaks and flaws in how we mobilized, educated and organized populations for change. as far as i can understand it looking back, at almost every point in history it has APPEARED that the whole human experiment was a massive moral failure. and yet the flow and impact of integrity builds – we celebrate integrity, we fashion our created heros out of visions of a moral high ground that holds a reverence for humanity and the planet highest. without necessarily understand why, people still strive for what they feel is good. the issue is perhaps that the standards for good are so varied, come from so many sources – parents, god, teachers, your children, shame…i find that the more media i hear the more hopeless i feel, but the more people i interact with the more i am sure that we are not only preserving but honing the human spirit, even in this period of apparent low.

last of all, and this may sound zen or silly or i don’t know but it does help me…whenever i start to feel as if the work i am doing is pointless or in the wrong direction, i reflect on my necessary insignificance, and i laugh. every ‘hero’ i’ve ever had fell apart upon close inspection. up close its so messy, no matter what your human aim is. wisdom is flighty, few people are remembered, your work is really only important insomuch as you are freeing masses of people from bondage – of mind, body, spirit. and once i swallow my smallness, i examine what i am doing – make sure its the absolute best and most i can do and that it is towards the end of freeing people to seize their own meaning in life – and i get back to work.

STORE WARS

check it!

Friends:

From Free Range Studios, makers of The Meatrix, comes another epic
sci-fi mini-movie not to be missed:

http://www.storewars.org

Meet the heroes of the Organic Rebellion: Cuke Skywalker, Ham Solo and   Chewbroccoli. With guidance from wise old Obi Wan Cannoli, this small  band  of vegetable puppets (yes, vegetable puppets) is battling against  Darth  Tader, evil lord of the Dark Side of The Farm.

May the Farm Be With You.

-Gita

the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY
the aids walk approaches - 
the ways you can support ending the pandemic abound!
that's the focus of this blog update:

-

email tchaikoomawale@aol.com about donating to the conscious movements
collective documentary Stigma: HIV/AIDS and Youth in NYC!

-

check out www.endaidsnow.org (we endorsed the campaign today)

-

donate to me for the aidswalk (go to www.aidswalk.net/newyork and search team 9124 - LPOV

-

get your org to endorse this letter by emailing tobias@harmreduction.org

May 10, 2005

Ambassador Randall Tobias
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
US State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20522

Dear Ambassador Tobias:

As the US increases its commitment to global HIV prevention efforts, we
write to express our concern about recent reports that US officials have
questioned the efficacy of needle exchange programs and sought to block
support for needle exchange in United Nations resolutions and policy
documents.  As you know, the sharing of syringes by injection drug users is
a major driver of the AIDS epidemic both in the United States and
internationally.  As researchers, practitioners and representatives of
affected populations, we affirm the important role that needle exchange and
other sterile syringe programs play in helping to avert the spread of
HIV/AIDS.

Outside of Africa, an estimated one-third of new HIV infections are
attributed to injection drug use.  In some countries, the proportion is
even higher.  In Russia, as many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV,
with 75 percent of new infections stemming from injection drug
use.  Injection drug use accounts for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in
Ukraine, all of the Baltic States, the Central Asian Republics, Indonesia,
Nepal, Iran, and Pakistan.  In China, Vietnam and Malaysia, the majority of
those living with HIV are injection drug users. Often, the vast majority of
those infected are under thirty.  Injection driven HIV epidemics
consistently spread faster than sexually transmitted epidemics such as
those found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 23 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 2003 were attributed
to injection drug use and/or sex with an injection drug user.  This
percentage is higher for women and African American men.  Of all cases
diagnosed through 2003, 53 percent of cases among women and 43 percent
among African American men were attributed to injection drug use or sex
with an injection drug user.

As the US Public Health Service has noted, for injection drug users who
cannot or will not stop using drugs, using sterile syringes remains the
safest and most effective method of HIV prevention.  Medically appropriate
treatment remains out of reach to the vast majority of drug users who need
it: in the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, over 80
percent of those needing treatment for drug abuse as of 2000, did not have
access to it.  At the same time, extensive evaluation and research has
shown that sterile syringe programs can dramatically decrease the spread of
HIV without increasing drug use.  These programs can additionally provide a
bridge to drug treatment services by offering clients with information and
referrals to treatment providers.  No fewer than seven federally-funded
reviews and reports conducted by public health officials, researchers and
US government agencies have concluded that syringe exchange programs are
effective, safe and cost effective.

The efficacy of syringe exchange has recently been affirmed by the US
government’s top scientists.  In an October 7, 2004 letter to Congress,
Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Elias Zerhouni stated,
“Research shows that SEPs [syringe exchange programs], when implemented as
part of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, can be an effective
public health approach to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood borne
pathogens in the community.” In an August 4, 2004 letter, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow stated, “The majority of
studies have shown that NEPs/SEPs [needle exchange programs/syringe
exchange programs] are strongly associated with reductions in the spread of
HIV when used as a component of comprehensive approach to HIV prevention…
In addition to decreasing HIV infected needles in circulation through the
physical exchange of syringes, most NEPs/SEPs are part of a comprehensive
HIV prevention effort that may include education on risk reduction, and
referral to drug addiction treatment, job or other social services, and
these interventions may be responsible for a significant part of the
overall effectiveness of NEPs/SEPs. NEPs/SEPs also provide an opportunity
to reach out to populations that are often difficult to engage in treatment.”

In 2004, this consensus was reinforced by the World Health Organization
(WHO), which stated that the available data “present a compelling case that
needle and syringe programs substantially and cost effectively reduce the
spread of HIV among injection drug users and do so without evidence of
exacerbating injecting drug use at either the individual or societal
level.”  The WHO accordingly recommended that “authorities responsible for
areas threatened by or experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection among IDUs
(injection drug users) should adopt measures urgently to increase the
availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and expand
implementation to scale as soon as possible.”

As the single largest funder of global HIV/AIDS programs in the world, the
US carries enormous influence in shaping global approaches to the
epidemic.  Even beyond its role as a donor, many look to the United States
for guidance in the design and implementation of their programs.  The fact
that the United States remains the only country in the world to impose an
explicit ban on federal funding of needle exchange already sets a poor
example to other nations battling severe injection-driven HIV/AIDS
epidemics.  It is more critical than ever that US agencies communicate
accurate information about needle exchange, faithfully represent the public
health consensus supporting these programs, and refrain from standing in
the way of countries, and organizations within its own borders, that wish
to pursue this proven, effective method of prevention.  With so many at
risk for HIV, we need all the tools we have.

Sincerely,

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York, NY
GMHC, New York, NY
Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Housing Works, New York, NY
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
North American Syringe Exchange Network, Tacoma, WA
League of Pissed Off Voters, New York, NY
Open Society Institute, New York, NY

my country songs

i have been writing a lot of country songs lately – all i hear is fiddles, people clapping, spoons even. i wrote this one this morning reading my bob dylan book, inspired by a good friend’s recent fortune in marriage:

all i need is a place somewhere where
i can be with the one i love
such a sweet man you would not believe and
made up of such wondrous stuff
he might tease me and drive me mad
still the best thing i’ve ever had
all i need is a little room
to give him heaven for life

all i need is a winding stair up
to that place no one else can see
with him near my laughter falls down
and i remember the truest me
he might falter in this world of fools
he don’t play by nobody’s rules
but all i need is to love this man
to be his blushing wife

yee haw!

Owning the Amazon

Did yall see this?
People tell me it was censored in the States. I only found it in other languages
(like french, italian, in portuguese).
Brazilian Minister of Education CRISTOVAO BUARQUE is said to
have given this answer (more likea great little speech!) to an American who
asked him a very popular American environmentalist question:  What did he t
hink about making the Amazon an international territory, and taking it off
Brazil’s hands, in order t o protect it (since it’s important to the ENTIRE
planet), etc.  The questioner supposedly said that he’d like the
minister to answer as a humanist and not as a brazilian.  Frankly the
answer is so good, I think this is a hoax, but if dude really kicked it like
this to him, off the top of his head,
wow!
So the minister said, more or
less:
"Indeed as a Brazilian, I have to say I am
against the internationalization of the Amazon.  As much as our
government may have mismanaged it, it’s still OURS.  As a humanist,
thinking about the environmental destruction in t he Amazon, I can imagine that
we would internationalize it since it is important to all humanity.  If,
ethically, the Amazon should be internationalized, let us also internationalize
oil reserves.  Oil is as important to the well-being of humanity as the
Amazon and yet the owners of the reserves retain the right to control them and
control prices.  In the same way, the financial capital of rich countries
should be internationalized.  If the Amazon is a reserve for all human
beings and it cannot be burnt at the will of the country that owns it, then
burning it is as terrible as is unemployment resulting from the arbitrary
decisions of global corporations.  We cannot burn financial reserves of
entire countries either.  Before the Amazon, I’d actually like to see the
internationalization of all great museums.  The Louvre cannot belong only
to France.  Each museum holds the best pieces produced by human genius.
Those can’t be left to the whims of one owner or country.  During the
Millenium Forum here at the UN some diplomats had trouble entering the
border.  I think that New York, as the home of the UN should be
internationalized.  Manhattan should belong to all humanity, as well as
Paris, Venice, Rome, London, Rio, each city with its beauty and world history,
should belong to the entire world.  If the US would like to
internationalize the Amazon rather than leave it to the Brazilians to manage,
let us also internationalize
the nuclear arsenal of the US.  The US has
actually already demonstrated its willingness to use these weapons and cause
destruction thousands of times worse than the burning of florests in
Brazil.  In the presidential debates in the US the candidates proposed
internationalizing forrests in exchange for debt. Let us start to use that debt
to ensure that every child in the world can EAT and go to school.  Let us
internationalize children, treating all of them the same, independent of country
of origin, as belonging to the entire world.  They deserve it more than the
Amazon.  When world leaders treat poor children of the world in that way
they will no longer allow that they work when they should be
studying or that they die when they should
live.
As a humanist I accept the idea of internationalizing
the world.  But as long as the world treats me as a Brazilian, I will fight
so that the Amazon remain ours.  Only
ours."
THE JANINE TRANSLATION IS MORE LIKE
PARAPHRASING!