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Eight out of every 10 people living with AIDS in Washington are African-American.
That includes Robert Cobb, a 54-year-old gay client of Whitman-Walker Clinic, who doesn’t take Feb. 7 lightly.
”[It’s the] one day out of the year where people take the time to be aware and at least acknowledge that there are people that are still living with [AIDS] and are trying to live good healthy [lives],” he says about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Whitman-Walker Clinic will observe the seventh annual awareness day with an open house from 3 to 5 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Max Robinson Center, 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE.
”It’s important, particularly in the District of Columbia, where the rate of new infections among African-Americans is as high as it is to [commemorate a day focusing on the African-American community],” says clinic spokesperson Kim Mills.
According to Mills, 44 percent of the clinic’s clients were African-American last year, and an additional three percent were African. Mills says the awareness day helps address some of the barriers that gay people in the African-American community face.
”The first barrier is racism and the fact that black people, generally in our society, are underserved medically,” she says.
”There is also the barrier of the closet that is intensified for many African-Americans coming from a culture where the subject is not approached by families, and churches, that have been in denial for years.”
Whitman-Walker Clinic’s day of observance, which includes free HIV testing at various locations throughout the day, was established to acknowledge and overcome those stigmas.
The open house will be followed by a community reception at 6:30 p.m., at the Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus (THEARC), 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, where D.C. Chartered Health will present Whitman-Walker Clinic with a $150,000 donation. Whitman-Walker Clinic will also offer free HIV testing at its various locations throughout the day. For details visit www.wwc.org. -Yusef Najafi
Earline Budd, of Transgender Health Empowerment (THE), is asking members of the GLBT community to join her in court at 9:30 a.m., on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Courtroom 111 at the D.C. Superior Court for the case of Preston R. Logan, the 43-year-old man charged with first-degree murder of his partner Lee Person, a 42-year-old transgender woman known in the community as Diamond.
”What happens is, time and time again, after a week or two, especially when they have someone in custody, there seems to be a lack of interest. We have to stay and be vigilant through the whole process to make sure justice has been served,” says Budd.
Budd expressed frustration and said that she was alone during Logan’s preliminary hearing on Jan. 24, when he waived his preliminary hearing as a part of a plea agreement to second-degree murder, which carries up to 40 years to life sentence.
Officials released a documented account of Logan’s videotaped statement, in which he describes the events leading up to the brutal murder of Person. According to the report, Logan told police he was romantically involved with Person for the past four months. Logan claimed that they had both smoked ”crack” on Jan. 3, before an argument about finances and other issues escalated into a physical fight. The report also details the attack, in which Logan hit Person in the head with a hammer repeatedly before choking her with a necktie, nylon strap and finally a plastic bag.
Budd said she is concerned that Logan waived his preliminary hearing.
”It tells me that it’s giving them time to develop a strategy for him to get around this heinous crime,” she said. ”He’s using the drugs to say that’s a part of the reason why he did what he did to her and that’s inexcusable. However we do have a chance to share Victim Impact Statements, and we intend to be very visible in that regard, and saying, ‘Enough is enough.”’ -Yusef Najafi
It’s been more than three weeks since the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) found 29-year-old lesbian Gabriela Jose Lopez suffering from multiple stab wounds at her apartment in the 1900 block of Columbia Road NW. Yet, there has been no arrest or break in the case, according to Officer Israel James from the MPD’s Violent Crimes Branch. Sgt. Brett Parson, interim commanding officer of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, was called to the scene on Jan. 9, but did not have any new information about the investigation underway by the Violent Crimes Branch. ”We have not heard anything,” Parson said. ”That could mean it’s not going in our direction or they don’t need us. I can’t assume that it’s not gay related, but I can’t assume that is [either].” D.C. Police are asking anyone with information to contact officials at 202-727-9099. -Yusef Najafi
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