OACF hosts HIV/AIDS Advocacy Day at Oklahoma State Capitol

HIV/AIDS Advocacy Day at Oklahoma State Capitol will be Monday, April 10 beginning at 9 a.m.

By Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) will host HIV/AIDS Advocacy Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the 4th Floor Rotunda on Monday, April 10 beginning at 8:30 a.m.

HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will bring together consumers, advocates and member organizations from around the state for a common cause and serves as an opportunity to develop relationships with lawmakers.

“We will focus our attention on visiting the offices of those elected officials who opposed HB1538 in an effort to gain their support in favor of SB246 (a similar bill),” said Cher Golding, Executive Director of the OACF. “This bill is to update the Education Health Mandate to include current and medically accurate language. HB1538 was defeated on March 22nd by a vote of 41-47.”

According to reports, the bill's author, Rep. Emily Virgin, was questioned on everything from abstinence language to the prevalence of blood transmission. 

Below are some of the comments made on the floor:

  • Rep. Derby & Rep. Coody asked why they took out language pertaining to homosexual contact when that is the most prevalent way of spreading the disease. They did not think heterosexuals were at risk.  
  • Rep. Lepak asked about the prevalence of disease.
  • Rep. Calvey asked that if one can transmit HIV to an unborn child, would that not open the door to government employees at the school using CDC, a pro-abortion agency, to get abortions in order to prevent the spread of AIDS?
  • A couple of lawmakers asked why the law should be changed after all this time (possibly insinuating Oklahomans are happy with the status quo).
  • Rep. Strohm asked if the bill represents Oklahoma values. 

The members of this committee who either voted against the prior bill (HB1538) or were excused include:

  • Rep. M. Rogers, Chair
  • Rep. Caldwell
  • Rep. Condit (excused)
  • Rep. D. Rogers (excused)
  • Rep. Strohm
  • Rep. M. Osburn

In Oklahoma, there are 3,073 people living with HIV (PLWH) in 2015.Of that number, 45 were ages 0-12. There were 146 between the ages of 13-19 and at ages 20-29 the number of PLWH jumps to 1,250.

New HIV transmissions continue to persist in Oklahoma and the current HIV/AIDS legislation has not been updated since 1987. The current curriculum is outdated and spreads false information that could actually increase infection rates in young Oklahomans.

“All this to say, we have a lot of work to do to educate our elected officials about the basics of HIV transmission, the services our HIV/AIDS organizations and state agencies provide, and statistical information about all Oklahomans who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS (living and deceased),” added Golding. “We will further go into details on Monday morning.”

Organizers anticipate that SB246 will be heard in the Common Education Meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. in Room 412C. If you are able to attend this meeting, you are encouraged you to stay in support of SB246. 

Anyone and everyone is invited to attend HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Monday, April 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the fourth floor rotunda (2300 N Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105). The event is hosted by The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) and the Oklahoma HIV and AIDS Advocacy Coalition.

Parking is in the south Capitol parking lot and use the south entrance into the building. Overflow parking is at the Jim Thorpe Building on the west side of N. Lincoln Ave.

Find OACF online at okaidscarefund.com, on Facebook as @OklahomaAIDSCareFund, on Twitter @OkAIDSCare and on Instagram @redtienight.  

Copyright The Gayly April 7, 2017 @2:51 CST