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Emory students take time out to remember World AIDS Day

AIDS Quilt on display at Emory University

Caroline Stokes and her friend, Tonni Blount, sat on the top floor of the Dobbs Student Center at Emory University, finishing up their lunch of soup and chatting about the end of the school year.

The noise of dozens of other students could be heard in the background as they all carried on intimate conversations. But listening closely, a monotone voice could be heard through the others reading a list of dozens and dozens of names.

The names were of people who had died of AIDS, part of the university's World AIDS Day program on Dec. 1, that included a display of some 40 AIDS Quilt panels in the student center. A total of 80 panels were on view throughout the campus in various buildings.

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AIDS activists ask Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to add $5 million to drug program

Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham

With approximately 800 people in Georgia on a waiting list to receive life-saving HIV/AIDS medications, activists are urging Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to increase funding to the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program by $5 million in his first budget.

At a press conference inside the State Capitol on Wednesday — World AIDS Day — approximately 50 HIV activists and those living with HIV delivered some 1,200 postcards to Deal’s office at the state Capitol urging him to fund the ADAP program that provides medication to those who can’t get them any other way.

“It is absolutely unforgivable that in this day and age a state like Georgia would have a waiting list for ADAP,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality that has founded the Save Georgia’s Drug Assistance Program group.

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CDC report: More HIV tests than ever, but still 1 in 5 don’t know they have virus

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director

While more adults are being tested for HIV in the U.S. than ever before, there are still one in five, or 200,000 people, who have HIV and don't know it, according to new information released today by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta.

The news comes the day before World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

The CDC reported today that since 2006, when it recommended HIV testing become a routine part of health care for adults and adolescents and more frequent testing for those at high risk — including bisexual and gay men —that there has been an increase of 11.4 million people who have been tested for HIV.

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Pentagon study: Majority of military sees no negative impact from openly gay troops

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, answered questions today regarding the Pentagon's finalized report on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Both Gates and Mullen thanked the authors of the study for their work over the last 10 months and reiterated their desire to see Congress pass a repeal of the law during the current lame-duck session.

"I fully endorse the report, its findings and the implementation plan," Mullen said.

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Support from military joint chiefs not needed to repeal gay ban?

President Barack Obama pledges to move forward on DADT without Joint Chiefs support

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Nov. 22 said he’s unsure whether the results of the Pentagon study on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will move the four service chiefs to support an end to the law as he suggested that unanimous support among the military leaders won’t be necessary for moving forward.

Asked by the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper, whether President Obama anticipates that the service chiefs will favor repeal following the completion of the Pentagon report, Gibbs said he doesn’t “want to presume” where they would stand after the study is finished, noting the president hasn’t yet seen it.

“I think the service chiefs as I understand it are meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the secretary as we get closer to this report coming out in order to discuss where they are based on that survey,” Gibbs said. “The president has not yet seen that survey, so I don’t want to presume whether based on those results that would change their opinions on it.”

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By the numbers: World AIDS Day

60 million

People worldwide infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.

25 million

People worldwide who have died of AIDS-related causes.

2.7 million

New HIV infections worldwide in 2008, the most recent year for complete statistics.

1.1 million

Estimated Americans currently living with HIV.

1st

Ranking of male-to-male sexual conduct among the common transmission modes for HIV in the United States.

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Innovative work continues in effort to find HIV vaccine

The search for an HIV vaccine continues

The first world war of the 21st century isn’t about land, power or domination — it’s against a disease, say HIV/AIDS activists and researchers.

As of this fall there were 86 different HIV vaccine-related studies in the field with an additional 16 planned to go live over the next several months. Each study offered a different concept or twist hoping to find an effective way of preventing the spread of HIV.

In 2009, the results were announced from a three-year trial that followed more than 15,000 people in Thailand, and while the vaccine was only 31 percent effective it has encouraged researchers that a vaccine is possible.

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Clay Aiken to Congress: Stop anti-gay bullying

American Idol alum Clay Aiken calls on Congress to address anti-gay bullying

“American Idol” singer Clay Aiken and two mothers whose sons committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying at their schools appeared at a Capitol Hill briefing Nov. 18 to urge Congress to pass two bills that would require schools to address bullying and harassment targeting LGBT students.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network organized the briefing as a means of drawing public attention to the two pending bills, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

“Like many kids now in middle schools and high schools, I was bullied,” said Aiken, who came out as gay in 2008 after winning the runner up title of best singer on the widely viewed television show “American Idol.”

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Atlanta artist makes bold statements through his craft

Artist Jon Arge

Jon Arge, or Arge, has made an impact on Atlanta’s art movement for nearly 20 years, from creating flyers for the once popular parties he promoted at the now defunct Metro to unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that hang from the walls of galleries and the homes of close friends and other art lovers.

“When [my pieces] moved from the bathroom to the kitchen to over the mantle, I knew I had made my mark,” he jokes while sitting inside his bedroom, which also serves as his studio.

Arge, 42, whose real name is Randall Jonathan Baker, truly struggled to find his place in the art world. After receiving a scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design (in Savannah), he learned the professors there didn’t want him to really draw in his style anymore. A battle of wits ensued as Arge refused to give up his own method and he was eventually asked to leave.