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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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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.

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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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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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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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Gays most likely to be victims of violent hate crimes

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that gay people, or those who are perceived to be gay, are far more likely to be the target of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in America.

According to a SPLC press release, gay people are twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews and African Americans, four times more likely to be violently attacked than Muslims and 14 times more than Latinos.

"As Americans become more accepting of homosexuals, the most extreme elements of the anti-gay movement are digging in their heels and continuing to defame gays and lesbians with falsehoods that grow more incendiary by the day," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report. "The leaders of this movement may deny it, but it seems clear that their demonization of homosexuals plays a role in fomenting the violence, hatred and bullying we're seeing."

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State employment non-discrimination bill to be introduced in Ga. General Assembly

Dee Dee Chamble of La Gender, Inc.

A Georgia Employment Non-Discrimination Act including transgender protections will be introduced in the upcoming legislative session, it was announced at this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance at the State Capitol.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, told the some 100 people attending TDOR at the state Capitol that a bill was being worked on to be introduced. Currently it is legal for a person to be fired in Georgia simply for being gay.

Graham cited the federal court victory of Vandy Beth Glenn as the reason now is the time to try to get such a bill introduced.

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Lawsuit over Eagle raid heads to mediation; sources say no settlement letters

Patrons and staff of Atlanta Eagle gather on the anniversary of the controversial raid

A federal judge ordered both sides of a lawsuit stemming from the Atlanta Police Department's botched raid on the Atlanta Eagle to meet Monday in court to attempt to mediate the case. But sources familiar with the case dispute a media report that the city has already sent settlement letters to some plaintiffs affected by the gay bar raid.

"The City of Atlanta has sent letters proposing possible settlements to the individual Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit alleging violation of US Constitutional rights during the September 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle," Atlanta Progressive News reported today, noting that "two of the Plaintiffs confirmed receipt of the letters," which allegedly contain proposed monetary settlements based on how the individuals were treated during the raid.

But sources familiar with the case told the GA Voice that the letters were not sent by the city, but instead were internal communications between plaintiffs and their attorneys.

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Open lesbian Renee Propes talks about promotion to deputy chief for Atlanta Police Department

Renee Propes began work last Thursday in her new assignment as a deputy chief for the Atlanta Police Department, the first known openly gay person to hold a command position within the APD. She's a native Atlantan and has been on the force for 27 years.

Propes attended the APD's LGBT Advisory Board meeting Monday night and spoke with Georgia Voice for a few minutes about the excitement of her promotion as well as serving as a role model for others who cannot be out in the workplace.

"It's very exciting," she said about receiving the news from Chief George Turner. "This is the pinnacle of my career."