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    In the News: January 14, 2016

    -By Dennis McMillan

    Mayor Lee’s Inauguration: Pomp and Protest

    Mayor Ed Lee’s second inauguration drew thousands of people—including state and federal politicians, city supervisors, heads of city departments and hundreds of angry protesters—to City Hall. Before the doors officially opened to the public at 11 am, protesters were already gathering for a planned demonstration. As soon as Lee was announced, the applause and cheers from below were met with cries from above of “Black lives matter,” “Fire Chief Suhr” and “Justice for Mario Woods.” They rang through the building as Governor Jerry Brown administered the oath of office, and continued throughout Lee’s entire speech, which lasted less than 30 minutes. Later in the speech, Lee briefly spoke to protesters’ concerns: “I won’t stop until we build better trust between law enforcement and the communities they’re sworn to protect, especially young men of color.”

    Santa Clara County Establishes Office of LGBTQ Affairs

    Santa Clara County has become the first county nationwide to establish an Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Affairs. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have their own offices that address concerns of the LGBTQ community, but Santa Clara County is the first to represent them at a county level. Many jurisdictions across the country have staff liaisons and advisory commissions comprised of people from the LGBTQ community. There is no dedicated office at the state level, according to county officials.

    Researchers Suggest PrEP Is as Safe as Aspirin

    Research published in the Oxford Journal addresses questions that have been raised about the safety of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. While many studies have been conducted focusing on the efficacy of the drug, this new study wanted to examine how safe it is to take given concerns about potential side effects. Researchers from UCLA concluded that PrEP is at least as safe as one of the most common over the counter drugs found in households just about everywhere: aspirin. The safety and effectiveness studies of emtricitabine-tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC-TDF) for HIV infection pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men and women showed that daily use reduced the risk of HIV acquisition.

    CDC Survey: Bisexuality Is on the Rise

    A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a growing number of men and women are identifying as bisexual. Researchers asked more than 9,000 people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 about their sexual experiences, and whether they are attracted to the same or opposite sex. They also asked if participators identify as being straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. The research took place between 2011 and 2013 as part of the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. The number of women who said they had sexual contact with another woman increased from the last CDC survey reporting 17.4% compared to the previous 14.2%. The number of men who identified as bisexual also increased to 2% in the current survey compared with 1.2% in the last one.

    Dolores Park to Reopen with Glow-in-the-Dark Event

    The fences surrounding the southern half of Dolores Park will finally come down, concluding a lengthy renovation that originally began nearly two years ago, in March 2014. The grand reopening is expected to take place any day now, weather permitting.Given the early nightfall this time of year, Rec & Park is encouraging people to bring their glow-in-the-dark gear, light-up props and LED accessories. The northern half of Dolores Park reopened back in June, after a delayed renovation, and the southern portion of the park was immediately closed for its own revamp. Upgrades to the southern half will include an overlook at 20th and Church, improved pedestrian paths, an underground bathroom near the playground and an open-air pissoir, intended to combat urination on the Muni tracks.

    EQCA & State Farm Searching for Good Neighbors in Bay Area

    Equality California is proud to once again partner with State Farm for the 2016 Equality California Equality Awards. State Farm will present the 2016 Good Neighbor Award at each of the Equality Awards celebrations, including the San Francisco Equality Awards taking place on April 2. They need help in the nominating process about a local hero—anyone who has made a lasting contribution to the health, well-being and equality of the LGBT community in the local area—and why they should recognize them with this special honor.

    After Taking Pills Every Day for Decades, HIV Patients May Take a Break

    If PRO 140 is FDA approved, infected persons could finally take a break and go on a vacation without having to remember their pills, and the exact times to take them each day. All they need is a reminder to inject a weekly dose of PRO 140 every seven days. CytoDyn Inc., clinical developer of PRO 140, recently announced that eleven HIV patients receiving PRO 140 monotherapy in an extension study have now successfully reached one year of maximal virologic suppression. These patients substituted their daily Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) regimen with weekly painless subcutaneous injections of PRO 140. These eleven patients have experienced successful monotherapy with PRO 140 for a period ranging from 12 to 15 months to date.

    Hennessy Sworn in as 35th Sheriff of San Francisco

    Vicki L. Hennessy was sworn in as the 35th Sheriff of San Francisco and is the first woman to be elected to that office. Senator Dianne Feinstein administered the oath of office, and Assemblymember David Chiu served as master of ceremonies. Born and raised in San Francisco, Hennessy joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1975, a member of the first recruit class that included women, communities of color and LGBT deputies. She rose quickly through the ranks to become the youngest Captain in California law enforcement, and then Chief Deputy. She was a member of the Sheriff’s Department’s executive management team for 25 years, serving in every division of the department.

    FDA Approves Genvoya, a New Once-Daily HIV Regimen

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new one-pill-a-day HIV treatment regimen called Genvoya, made by Gilead Sciences. Genvoya is a tablet containing four drugs: elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide. The recommended dosage of Genvoya is one tablet taken once daily with food. Genvoya is the first approved anti-HIV pill to contain a new form of the drug tenofovir called tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF for short. The older form of tenofovir—called tenofovir disoproxil fumarate or TDF—was approved by the FDA in 2001. TDF is a component in most current HIV treatment regimens, as well as in the only FDA-approved pill to prevent HIV transmission (Truvada)

    Nighttime Muni Shutdowns Targeting January 22 Conclusion for Super Bowl

    Super Bowl 50 will impact local transit, but at least it is bringing a planned end to one Muni annoyance: the nighttime shutdown of underground light-rail trains, which has been ongoing since July 31. Muni says that work on the trains’ new radio and phone systems is progressing on schedule, and the post-9:30 pm shutdowns should conclude on January 22—the day before Super Bowl City begins construction.

    Latest FDA Blood Policy Not Based on Science, But Stigma

    The FDA has formally released a 12-month deferral plan in the blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men, clinically referred to as “men who have sex with men” (MSM). The policy replaces a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual male blood donors with a one-year deferral for any man who has had sex with another man—meaning, gay and bisexual men must be celibate for one year before they can donate blood. The FDA’s 12-month deferral plan would still require gay and bisexual men to be celibate for a full year before they are allowed to donate blood, regardless of marital status and safe-sex practices. Heterosexuals are given no such restrictions, even if their sexual behavior places them at high risk for HIV. In practice, the new policy is still a continuation of the lifetime ban and ignores the modern science of HIV-testing technology while perpetuating negative stereotypes.

    Anti-Transgender CA Ballot Initiative Fails to Gather Sufficient Signatures

    A coalition of California civil rights and LGBT organizations said that supporters of a proposed anti-transgender ballot initiative have failed to submit the signatures necessary to qualify it for the November 2016 ballot. “Privacy for All,” the group behind the failed measure, needed to submit 365,880 valid signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office to qualify for the ballot. “Privacy for All” is backed by the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute and other supporters. The measure would have required persons to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings.” It would have also protected private businesses from being “subject to criminal, civil, or administrative sanctions, or civil suits for requiring employees, patrons, students, or any other person to use facilities in accordance with their biological sex.”

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    Bay Area Plans 96 Hours of Action to Honor MLK’s Legacy

    Hundreds of people from more than two-dozen Bay Area groupings will respond to the Anti Police-Terror Project’s (APTP) call to come together for 96 hours of direct action over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, January 15–18. This weekend’s events will culminate in a Reclaiming King’s Radical Legacy March on Monday, January 18, beginning at 11 am at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th & Broadway).

    Caitlyn Jenner Abruptly Cancels Speaking Tour

    Caitlyn Jenner has canceled her five-city tour, which was set to kick off February 22, “due to conflict with another work commitment,” her rep confirmed. The 66-year-old former Olympian was set to speak in San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto. A rep from the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, where Caitlyn was to make one of her appearances, said, “The entire tour is canceled.” Meanwhile, Jenner recently settled with one driver in the fatal Malibu crash she was involved in last February.

    Judge Rules FedEx Same-Sex Benefits Suit Can Proceed

    Stacey Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall had been partners for nearly 30 years, registered domestic partners since 2000, and the parents of two children when they got married in their Sebastopol home in June 2013. The next day, Taboada-Hall died of lung cancer at age 56. Three months later, a Sonoma County judge issued Schuett a certificate that validated their marriage, even though it had taken place a week before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that ended California’s ban on same-sex marriages. That didn’t stop FedEx Corp., Toboada-Hall’s longtime employer, from denying widow’s pension benefits to Schuett. But now, Schuett has gained a legal victory that may be significant to other same-sex couples: A federal judge has ruled that she can sue FedEx for the benefits.

    Magnet Relocates and Changes Name

    The new center for health and wellness from San Francisco AIDS Foundation has finally opened at 470 Castro Street. Serving gay, bisexual and transgender men, the center brings together community engagement and support, sexual health and substance health services. Called Strut—a name evoking confidence and support—the center will co-locate the sexual health services of Magnet, the substance health and mental health services of the Stonewall Project, and the community building and support programs of Bridgemen, the DREAAM Project, the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network and Positive Force. The new center means the foundation can provide 25% more case management, 50% more substance use counseling, 25% more mental health counseling and up to 40% more HIV and STI testing.

    Friends of Urban Forest Seeks to Subsidize Castro Landscaping

    Supervisor Scott Wiener was able to secure funding to subsidize costs for a sidewalk landscape planting in his Castro district through Friends of the Urban Forest. If you are interested in having a highly subsidized sidewalk garden in front of your property, and live on the 200 block of Diamond Street, or neighboring 19th and 20th streets, please message organizer If selected, you’d be committing to paying for and maintaining a sidewalk garden in front of your property. With the City’s financial assistance, the cost would be $422 per property. This fee covers all the permitting, concrete removal, garden design assistance, and plants. A typical sidewalk garden costs approximately $2k, so the savings is substantial.

    The Q Is Queer Jewish Teen Group

    Anyone—regardless of religion or sexuality—can be a part of The Q group, which focuses on LGBTQIQ themes as seen through a Jewish lens. Teen-led, fun and inclusive, The Q has its own programs, trips and events. There’s been a great student response to the Q, and the program was also honored with an award for Jewish impact from the JCC Association of North America. The Q: The Queer Teen Group at the JCCSF is currently seeking interested and self-motivated LGBTQIQA high school students to be leaders in The Q, perfect for someone who loves creating safe, inclusive, social spaces and opportunities for their peers.