Activists around the world welcome Pope Francis’ comments against criminalization laws…

By Michael K. Lavers and Andrés I. Jové Rodríguez
Washington Blade

Activists around the world say Pope Francis’ comments against criminalization laws are a milestone for the global LGBTQ and intersex rights movement.

Toni Reis, president of Aliança Nacional LGBTI+, a Brazilian LGBTQ and intersex advocacy group, told the Washington Blade that Francis’ comments are “a message that needs to be assimilated by at least 70 countries that still criminalize homosexuality in some way, including 11 countries in which the death penalty can be applied.”

Reis and his husband, David Harrad, in 2017 baptized their three adopted children at a Catholic cathedral in Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil. Reis later received a letter on official Vatican letterhead that said Francis “wishes you happiness, invoking for your family the abudance of divine graces in order to live steadfastly and faithfully as good children of God and of the church.”

“We are unable to find in the recorded words of Jesus Christ, on whom the Christian faith is founded, any reference to homosexuality as a sin,” Reis told the Blade. “There is no longer room for deliberately decontextualized interpretations of the Old Testament and the books of certain Apostles in this sense.”

Francis during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press on Jan. 24 described criminalization laws as “unjust” and said “being homosexual is not a crime.”

The pontiff acknowledged some Catholic bishops support criminalization laws and other statutes that discriminate against LGBTQ and intersex people. Francis told the Associated Press that cultural backgrounds contribute to these attitudes, and added “bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.”

Chantale Wong, the U.S. director of the Asian Development Bank who was born in Shanghai, is the first openly lesbian American ambassador.

Wong’s aunt and uncle enrolled her in a Catholic bording school in Macau, which at the time was a Portuguese colony, after she fled China with her grandmother in 1960. Wong was baptized and given the name Chantale after St. Jane Frances de Chantale.

She later attended an all-girls Catholic high school in Guam.

“He is definitely my pope,” tweeted Wong on Jan. 25.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay, in a tweet thanked Francis “for your strong and clear words against the criminalization of LGBTIQ+ persons in the world.” Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ and intersex issues who traveled to Cambodia last month, echoed Bettel.

“Criminalization based on sexual orientation is contrary to international human rights law,” tweeted Madrigal-Borloz on Jan. 25. “I welcome this recognition by (the pope.)”

Homophobia is the ‘real sin’

The Vatican’s tone towards LGBTQ and intersex issues has softened since Francis assumed the papacy in 2013.

Francis — who vehemently opposed a marriage equality bill in his native Argentina before then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed it into law in 2010 — a decade later publicly backed civil unions for same-sex couples.

The pontiff in 2013 said gay men and lesbians should not be marginalized. 

Francis in 2016 later said the Roman Catholic Church should “ask forgiveness” from gay people over the way it has treated them. The pontiff in 2017 compared politicians who use hate speech against LGBTQ and intersex people and other minority groups to Adolf Hitler.

The Vatican in 2020 gave money to a group of transgender sex workers in Italy who were struggling to survive during the coronavirus pandemic. Francis in 2021 named Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay Chilean man who is a survivor of clergy sex abuse, to a commission that advises him on protecting children from pedophile priests.

Francis last year during several of his weekly papal audiences met with trans people who were living at a Rome church. 

Church teachings on homosexuality and gender identity remain unchanged despite these overtures. 

Francis during the Associated Press interview referred to LGBTQ and intersex issues within the context of “sin.” The pontiff later sought to clarify the comment.

“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” wrote Francis in a handwritten letter he sent to the Rev. James Martin, editor of Outreach, a website for LGBTQ and intersex Catholics, on Jan. 27.

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Todes, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ and intersex rights group, during an interview with the Blade acknowledged Francis “is giving a message that criminalization of the LGBTQ+ community must be fought.” Serrano added, however, the pontiff’s comments do not change church teachings.

“There is no change in dogma, there is no change in doctrine and nothing has changed in the catechism of the Catholic Church. Everything remains the same,” Serrano told the Blade. “As long as all that remains the same, there is no change.”

Serrano further stressed Francis’ categorization of homosexuality as a “sin” is paradoxical.

“Homophobia: That is the real sin,” said Serrano.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBTQ and intersex rights group, on Tuesday noted to the Blade that he is Catholic.

Uganda is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

Singapore, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, BotswanaBhutan and India have decriminalized homosexuality in recent years.  

Mugisha said Sexual Minorities Uganda welcomes Francis’ statement, which he made ahead of his trip to Congo and South Sudan. (Consensual same-sex sexual activity is legal in Congo, while South Sudan continues to criminalize it.) 

“Being Catholic, I know the Catholic Church will respect the pope’s views and I hope the church in Africa starts working with us towards discrimination of homosexuality,” Mugisha told the Blade.

ILGA World Co-Secretaries General Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown in response to Francis’ comments said “such a simple statement has now the potential to initiate a much-needed change and will provide relief to millions of persons in our communities across the world.” ILGA World Executive Director Julia Ehrt, like Serrano, said Vatican doctrine towards LGBTQ and intersex people needs to change if the pontiff’s position against criminalization laws will have any meaningful impact. 

“We urge the Holy See to turn these words into concrete action,” said Ehrt. “The Catholic Church and its institutions can and should play an active role in supporting decriminalization efforts across the world and within the United Nations and multilateral fora, where demands to scrap these profoundly wrong laws have long been reiterated.”

Outright International, a New York-based global LGBTQ and intersex rights group, in its response to Francis’ comments also noted church teachings.

“We welcome Pope Francis’ message of inclusion and acceptance,” said Outright International in a statement to the Blade. “Discrimination, persecution and marginalization are common experiences for LGBTIQ individuals and communities around the world. In some countries, many are subjected to conversion practices and its lifelong physical and emotional damages, which are often performed and sanctioned in the name of church teachings.” 

“Religious leaders have a storied history of perpetuating misconceptions about same-sex relations, promoting them as threats to society. As such, LGBTIQ people are subject to violent attacks, harassment and social stigmatization. The church’s actions have also influenced efforts to oppose the advancement of human rights for LGBTIQ people,” added Outright International. “Our hope is that the pope’s statement will foster respect, dignity and conversations that will lead to change in attitudes and lasting legal protections in this arduous journey for full equality.”

Orgullo Boquerón celebrará 20 años del jueves 8 al domingo 11 de junio…

Los organizadores de Orgullo Boquerón, el Festival de Orgullo LGBTQ+ del Oeste, anunciaron que el tradicional evento y desfile celebrará su vigésimo aniversario del jueves 8 al domingo 11 de junio de este año.

«Estamos de celebración al cumplir veinte años del mejor y más grande evento LGBTQ+ de Puerto Rico y del Caribe. Este año tiraremos la casa por la ventana, ya que lo que comenzó como un acto de cientos de personas ya se ha convertido en un evento de clase mundial que atrae a decenas de miles. Por ser nuestro vigésimo aniversario, añadiremos un día adicional comenzando las festividades desde el jueves 8 de junio. Les esperamos a todes del 8 al 11 de junio en el Poblado de Boquerón en Cabo Rojo», aseveró Pedro Julio Serrano, portavoz de Orgullo Boquerón.

Orgullo Boquerón es producido por Mújica Group. El evento cuenta con el endoso del Municipio Autónomo de Cabo Rojo, su alcalde, Jorge Morales Wiscovitch, y la vicealcaldesa, Ivette Rodríguez. Al igual que cuenta con el apoyo de la Asociación de Comerciantes de Boquerón.

«Próximamente estaremos anunciando a los demás artistas y eventos que se presentarán durante el fin de semana del jueves 8 al domingo 11 de junio, pero como siempre será un evento de altura, de lucha y de celebración de nuestras comunidades LGBTQ+. Les esperamos en Orgullo Boquerón”, concluyó Serrano. 

Para más información, pueden seguir a Orgullo Boquerón a través de sus redes sociales. Nos consiguen como @BoqueronOrgullo en FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok y Snapchat.

A New Narrative Podcast Aims to Raise HIV Awareness Within Latinx Communities…

By Arianna Marsh | Harper’s Bazaar

In 1998, Pedro Julio Serrano became the first openly LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive person to run for elected office in Puerto Rico. Vying for a seat in the United States territory’s House of Representatives, he was ultimately forced to run as an independent due to homophobia within his party. “Later, I withdrew my candidacy, because I received death threats,” says Serrano, a longtime human rights activist who now works as the director of public affairs at Waves Ahead, a nonprofit that provides aid to Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable communities. “The brake cables on my car were cut. Someone graffitied the door of my apartment. It made me move to New York City in the United States, because I didn’t feel safe.”

While much has been achieved over the past 25-plus years when it comes to quashing sex-based discrimination, the HIV epidemic—and the stigmas surrounding it—continue to disproportionally touch minority and disenfranchised groups including queer Latinx communities. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, Hispanic/Latino people made up 29 percent of the new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas, despite making up only 19 percent of the population overall. What’s more, cultural factors like the valuation of machismo prevent individuals from disclosing their sexuality and HIV status, and seeking testing, treatment, and support.

In an attempt to speak directly to Latinx communities, ViiV Healthcare, the only pharmaceutical company solely focused on HIV prevention, teamed up with entertainment studio Harley & Co. on a new podcast that not only provides information surrounding testing and treatment options—including where to obtain PrEP, a widely available medication that, when taken correctly, can help prevent contracting HIV—but also crucially aims to generate empathy and acceptance from those not directly affected by the virus.

“When you see yourself portrayed in a podcast, a program, or a show, it tells you that you matter, that your life matters, and that your story matters.”

Titled Love in Gravity, the scripted series includes six fictional stories from gay, bisexual, and queer Latinx and Afro-Latinx writers that feature characters living with HIV. Thoughtful and nuanced, each portrait aims to represent individuals and narratives typically left out of mainstream media, and spark conversations about HIV that might otherwise feel uncomfortable to those living with it, and their family and friends.

In one episode, tensions rise when soft-spoken Michel brings his first boyfriend home to a Mexican family reunion; in another, a man named Andres is forced to discuss his open relationship with his mother when she discovers his PrEP. “When you see yourself portrayed in a podcast, a program, or a show, it tells you that you matter, that your life matters, and that your story matters,” says Serrano, who in 2003 founded Puerto Rico Para Todes, a nonprofit LGBTTIQ+ and social justice advocacy organization. “This podcast also helps educate a broad array of people that might not have ever interacted with someone who’s openly living with HIV.”

Adds Sarah Hall, the podcast’s executive producer, “It really feels like the work of this moment is to find ourselves in each other, and stories are one of our most powerful tools for doing that. They are the doors and the windows into experience, they help us to cultivate solidarity, they make the unknown into something familiar, and all of that helps us to see ourselves and each other differently.”

Among the show’s impressive roster of collaborators is writer John Paul Brammer, who pens the queer advice column ¡Hola Papi! and is the author of the memoir ¡Hola Papi! How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons; Glee’s Kevin McHale; and Robin de Jesús, a three-time Tony-winning actor, best known for his Broadway roles in In the Heights, La Cage aux Folles, and Rent, as well as for his part in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2021 musical drama film, tick, tick… BOOM! “The podcast is such a great tool, because it’s entertainment but also serves a very specific community need,” de Jesús says.

In October, de Jesús and other Love in Gravity cast members performed select episodes live at the United States Conference on HIV/AIDS as one of ViiV’s many cultural initiatives developed to speak to communities disproportionately affected by HIV. Held in San Juan, the event aimed to highlight the impact of HIV in Latinx communities specifically, with a focus on Puerto Rico. “What I felt more than anything was pride,” de Jesús, who is of Puerto Rican descent, says. “There’s something different about performing for people face-to-face; ViiV recognizes the importance of community engagement.”

While new HIV diagnoses are decreasing in Puerto Rico, ViiV reports that nearly one quarter of newly diagnosed people meet the criteria for an AIDS diagnosis. (AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.) What’s more, the territory has the worst PrEP-to-need ratio in the United States, meaning viral suppressant therapies are not reaching those in need of treatment. While a lack of funding, government prioritization—as a United States territory, Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in American Congress—and a decentralized and understaffed health care system are partly to blame, the role of recurring natural disasters is also paramount.

According to research conducted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, viral suppression decreased from 71 percent to 65 percent as a result of the impacts of Hurricane Maria in 2017, including transportation barriers, loss of electricity, the destruction of medical facilities, and a lack of basic supplies. Access to care was also reduced by 22 percent. Over the last four years alone, Puerto Rico has also experienced a string of deadly earthquakes, the COVID-19 pandemic, the monkeypox outbreak, and, most recently, Hurricane Fiona. “Crisis after crisis only compounds the problem and doesn’t allow for people to make sure that they can access the services and make sure that they maintain their suppression,” Serrano says.

When it comes to supporting Puerto Rico, both Serrano and de Jesús stress how important solidarity and investment is. “Americans need to invest in Puerto Rico and understand our goals, aspirations, and our history in order to make sure they do it correctly,” says Serrano, emphasizing the importance of support from Puerto Ricans living Stateside. “And it cannot just be when tragedy strikes,” he continues. “We do great things with little resources and with our hands tied behind our backs. For example, there are a lot of states that do not have a bill of rights for people living with HIV, but Puerto Rico does. If America starts looking at us, it might learn something.”

“It really feels like the work of this moment is to find ourselves in each other, and stories are one of our most powerful tools for doing that.”

“When you’re a colony, you’re consistently framed as the one that’s needing help when in actuality, the U.S. has taken a lot and not given,” de Jesús adds. “The first step towards solidarity is learning more about the history between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, visiting Puerto Rico, being respectful tourists, and providing for the local economies.”

Ultimately, ViiV’s grassroots approach to improving the HIV crisis in Puerto Rico and within other Latinx communities is what sets the company apart from others. As Marc Meachem, ViiV’s head of U.S. external affairs, explains, representation of the diverse communities impacted by HIV is reflected in their culture work, the diversity of their clinical trials, and beyond. For example, Meachem shares that through the organization’s Positive Action for Latinx Men initiative, ViiV is “engaging with local communities across [Puerto Rico] and funding critical work of local organizations to expand their reach.”

“The work they are doing is crucial, because they come to Puerto Rico, they listen to us, they work with us, they hire us,” Serrano says. “They make sure that our voices are heard and that we’re taken care of.”

In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Devastation Impacts LGBTQ Residents Twofold…

By Tiana Randall | Teen Vogue

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, dropping more than 30 inches of rain across the region. The storm devastated the island, wiping out electricity and infrastructure just five years after Hurricane Maria left an impact that Puerto Rico still has yet to fully recover from. As many on the island still reel from the effects of Fiona, some in the LGBTQ community — who often struggle in Caribbean societies — have been left particularly devastated as they deal with discrimination, lack of access to resources, and trouble getting life-saving medications.

«We’ve been living crisis to crisis,» says Pedro Julio Serrano, human rights activist and director of Empodérate at Waves Ahead, a community-based organization that aids people LGBTQ adults, including those living with HIV. 

During the U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS in San Juan from October 8-11, the stories of the Island’s HIV positive LGBTQ community were told to attendees from across regions as part of a live performance of the Love In Gravity podcast — a show dedicated to shining light on the experiences of queer Latinx people living with HIV. The podcast, produced by Harley & Co and presented by ViiV Healthcare, tells stories about this community that reflect the universal experience of love. In shining light on the island’s HIV positive population, local advocates reflected on the ways that recent storms have hindered their ability to help, and how the power of community has stepped in to provide mutual aid.

Serrano says that Puerto Rico’s ongoing crises — economicgovernmental, and health — are amplified for queer people living with HIV, particularly in the aftermath of a devastating storm. For Serrano, Fiona’s aggression only emphasized the island’s delay in recovery from Hurricane Maria and other environmental incursions. Due to FEMA’s reported mismanagement of federal funds and unrest at the local level, «it just crystalizes the colonial status of Puerto Rico and how we cannot make decisions on our own, in our own land.» 

“We don’t see the community-based organizations that are doing the real work getting that [federal funding] and those resources to make sure we rebuild from a community-based standpoint,» Serrano continues. For Waves Ahead, that means people living with HIV risk not having access to their medication, along with the proper communication and education surrounding the virus.

«Sometimes we get companies and entities from outside Puerto Rico [that] come here and they just want to come in and do things without consulting us, without understanding our culture and history,» Serrano says. But according to Serrano, ViiV Healthcare, which says it’s the only pharmaceutical company that is solely focused on HIV, has been intentional in listening to the locals and organizing with the queer community in mind. Viiv is one of the producers behind the Love in Gravity podcast. 

Marc Meachem, head of U.S. external affairs at ViiV says, “we wanted to engage with local activists on the island who are engaged in their community to help spread the word and check in on how the community is doing.”

In the days after Fiona hit, Waves Ahead organized outreach toward their participants. «We made sure all had their medications, plus we distributed warm meals two weeks after the impact. Food boxes were also distributed,» Wilfred W. Labiosa, Executive Director of Waves Ahead says. 

Still, Serrano says continuing to provide these services as physical spaces recover poses challenges. According to the New York Times, in the aftermath of Maria, at least three popular queer establishments were forced to shut down, leaving even fewer places for regulars to socialize and feel connected to a larger community. Now, with Fiona’s destruction, the queer community is once again left without some of these safe spaces, Labiosa says.

«We have community-based organizations that are very good at providing medication in Puerto Rico, but there are some people who have transportation problems, don’t have adequate housing, or don’t have the resources to get their meds,» Serrano says. «Even though the services are there so many people are not able to access them due to the infrastructure problem.”

But the impacts aren’t just physical. Labiosa says that the organization, both before and after Fiona, prioritized providing mental health services to participants, alongside their other medical interventions. For 74-year-old Diane Michelle, an Afro-Boricua transgender woman living on the island, this is particularly important. 

«[The storm] has impacted me emotionally, specifically my mental health; I can’t believe that the heavy rains of Fiona impacted so much of the island. We are not ready for another,» she says. 

Michelle says the storm has made the role the queer community plays in supporting one another crystal clear. «Although we acquired so many experiences as a community, we continue to be marginalized and moved to the side,» Michelle says. “After the hurricane, many haven’t supported, contacted, nor maintained their cordiality for a better way of living…the only mobilization that I see is from community-based organizations.”

That’s where storytelling comes in. According to Harley & Co managing director Sarah Hall, using the Love In Gravity Podcast to spread stories about people living with HIV is a form of mutual aid. The production that was put into place was meant to recognize that the faces of Puerto Rico should be «visible all the time,» according to Hall. «With the hurricane, we felt like after disaster stresses systems, it’s often the places where we see mutual aid. And, people don’t consider artists a part of that — rightfully, they think of the most immediate things, they think food, water, power, but I think there’s always a place for art in recovery, resistance, and resilience.”

Puerto Rican local and RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 contender, Alyssa Hunter seemingly agrees. «We need more people to start caring more about the health of Puerto Rico and with LGBT [communities] because the government doesn’t take the gay community seriously, especially with HIV,» she says. 

Hunter hosted and performed at the USCHA convention, working with the Love In Gravity podcast for the benefit of her community was «an honor to be a part of because it brought people from all over the world to this tiny island for one thing.» 

“The [LGBTQ] community has had to fight, we are always fighting, and as LGBTQ people we always have to keep moving forward,» she says. For Alyssa, working on teaching young kids about HIV and carving out safe spaces for her community has to start in the streets — something she’s hoping to achieve through her participation with the podcast.

As physical entities were shattered in the wake of Fiona, locals and community organizers have worked endlessly to make sure the voices and faces of the LGBTQ youth are kept alive. Love In Gravity’s stories have brought art as a use of mutual aid to expand access to critical information like housing access, HIV prevention, and queer safety back to the forefront.

«We are the community and we need to stick together,” Hunter says. “That’s why we have pride and podcasts like this — to speak our voices.”

Exigen traslado de mujer trans a cárcel de mujeres e investigación sobre abusos en su contra…

Ivana Fred Millán y Pedro Julio Serrano, activistas de derechos humanos, volvieron a exigir al Departamento de Corrección que trasladen de inmediato a una confinada trans a un complejo correccional de mujeres. De igual forma, exigen que se investiguen, de manera independiente, los abusos denunciados por Aurora.

Este reclamo surge tras las denuncias de maltrato en contra de Aurora, confinada trans, que se hicieran la semana pasada en un reportaje de Manuel Crespo Feliciano en Las Noticias de Teleonce.

«El relato de Aurora es desgarrador. Los abusos que cometen en su contra son inhumanos, ilegales e inaceptables. No hay razón alguna para seguir negándole el derecho de cumplir su condena en una cárcel de mujeres, como dictan los protocolos, como obliga la ley y las decisiones judiciales sobre el confinamiento de personas trans. Aurora tiene que ser trasladada a una cárcel de mujeres hoy mismo», aseveró Fred Millán.

Serrano y Fred Millán recordaron que «en abril de este año, la secretaria del Departamento de Corrección y Rehabilitación, Ana Escobar Pabón, se había comprometido públicamente a trasladar a Aurora a una cárcel de mujeres; pero esto no se ha hecho. Todo lo contrario, la trasladaron a otra cárcel de hombres y la han aislado de la población en general, cometiendo abuso cruel e inusitado».

«Aurora ha denunciado abusos sexuales, amenazas, agresiones y confinamiento en solitaria. Es hora de que se detengan estos abusos y se investiguen. El Departamento de Corrección tiene protocolos para ubicar a las personas trans en cárceles de acuerdo a su identidad de género. Es hora de que hagan cumplir esos protocolos en el caso de Aurora y de cualquier otra persona trans que se le esté violando sus derechos», dijo, por su parte, Serrano.

Como portavoces de Puerto Rico Para Todes indicaron que cumplir con ese protocolo para personas confinadas trans se trata de vida o muerte, ya que en el pasado se han dado casos lamentables como el de Penélope Díaz, una mujer trans que fue asesinada mientras estaba recluida en una cárcel de hombres.

Por último, indicaron que «las alegaciones de Aurora son alarmantes. Las denuncias de maltratos, abusos y hasta el confinamiento en solitaria deben ser investigadas de inmediato por entes independientes al Departamento de Corrección. Es hora de que Aurora vaya a una cárcel de mujeres como le corresponde».

Salud anuncia que no se cambiará procesamiento de medicamentos para el VIH bajo el plan Vital…

Por Primera Hora

El secretario de Salud, Carlos Mellado López, informó este miércoles que la agencia no implementará cambios en el procesamiento de medicamentos para los pacientes del virus de inmunodeficiencia adquirida (VIH) que poseen el plan médico del gobierno, Vital.

Según aseguró en comunicado de prensa, “se mantendrá el modelo actual de compras y provisión de medicamentos para los pacientes VIH del plan de salud de Puerto Rico”.

La afirmación la hizo luego de que el activista de los derechos humanos, Pedro Julio Serrano, alertara de posibles cambios en la provisión de medicamentos a las personas que viven con VIH tras el trabajo que realizara APPIA en las pasadas semanas de levantar la voz de alerta y comenzar reuniones que lograron este desenlace.

Alegó que el mencionado “cambio” lo impondría la Administración de Seguros de Salud (ASES), con la implementación del Programa de Reembolso de Medicamentos de Medicaid (Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, MDRP en inglés). Detalló que la acción afectaría “de manera adversa la compra y distribución de los medicamentos antirretrovirales para el tratamiento de VIH”.

Pero, Mellado López explicó que se realizó este miércoles una reunión “productiva” entre el componente salubrista del Departamento de Salud en la que se acordó mantener el actual procesamiento de medicamentos. En la reunión participaron la directora de ASES, Edna Marín; la directora del Programa de Medicaid, Dinorah Collazo; la secretaría auxiliar de Salud Familiar y Servicios Integrados, Marilú Cintrón; la directora del Programa Ryan White Parte B/ADAP, Norma Delgado, y el coordinador de ADAP, el Héctor López de Victoria, entre otros integrantes del Departamento.

“Los pacientes pueden estar seguros, vamos a continuar con el modelo actual de provisión de medicamentos de VIH a pacientes del plan de salud de Puerto Rico. Además, incluiremos en el modelo y acuerdo entre el Departamento de Salud (Ryan White/ADAP) y la ASES los inhibidores de proteasa para que ADAP (Programa de Asistencia para Medicamentos Contra el Sida) mantenga el ofrecimiento del medicamento como lo ha hecho durante los pasados 15 años a los pacientes del plan de salud de Puerto Rico co-elegibles a ADAP y ASES le reembolse el costo a Ryan White”, adelantó el galeno.

Actualmente, los pacientes VIH del plan de salud de Puerto Rico obtienen sus medicamentos VIH en una red cerrada de 45 farmacias a las cuales los medicamentos son distribuidos a través del Programa Ryan White y comprados a bajo costo por ADAP.

Serrano explicó, además, que el ADAP del Departamento de Salud provee y despacha los medicamentos que no se encuentran en el Formulario de Medicamentos en Cubierta (FMC) bajo el Plan Vital. Además, hay un acuerdo que permite que este programa de asistencia compre los medicamentos que deben ser cubiertos por ASES a bajo costo, y luego ASES les reembolsa, lo que redunda en un ahorro para el programa.

Preocupa cambio que afectará provisión de medicamentos a personas que viven con vih…

El activista de derechos humanos Pedro Julio Serrano se mostró preocupado con el propuesto cambio en la provisión de medicamentos a las personas que viven con vih.

El cambio que impondrá la Administración de Seguros de Salud (ASES), con la implementación del Programa de Reembolso de Medicamentos de Medicaid (Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, MDRP en inglés), afectará de manera adversa la compra y distribución de los medicamentos antirretrovirales para el tratamiento de vih.

«El gobierno está presto a implementar un cambio que podría poner en riesgo la salud pública, pero está a tiempo de corregir. De hecho, confío en que el Secretario de Salud, Carlos Mellado, haga lo correcto pues ha demostrado empatía y solidaridad ante nuestros reclamos. Si las personas que vivimos con vih no tenemos acceso a nuestros medicamentos dejamos de ser indetectables, lo que complica nuestro panorama de salud. Es urgente que el gobierno actúe, de inmediato, para mantener intacto el plan de suministro de medicamentos», dijo Serrano.

Actualmente, el Programa de Asistencia para Medicamentos Contra el Sida (Aids Drug Assistance Program, ADAP en inglés) del Departamento de Salud provee y despacha los medicamentos que no se encuentran en el Formulario de Medicamentos en Cubierta (FMC) bajo el Plan Vital. Además, hay un acuerdo que permite que este programa de asistencia compre los medicamentos que deben ser cubiertos por ASES a bajo costo, y luego ASES les reembolsa, lo que redunda en un ahorro para el programa. Los nuevos cambios suponen que ASES deberá asumir costos mayores sin el respaldo del programa de asistencia para las personas que viven con vih.

«Este cambio, de aprobarse, pondría en riesgo nuestra salud y nuestras vidas. Sí, nuestras vidas, porque si no tenemos acceso a medicamentos, se complica nuestro panorama y podemos desarrollar la condición que nos puede llevar hasta la muerte. Aquí se nos juegan nuestras vidas», dijo Serrano.

Por último, el portavoz de Puerto Rico Para Todes agradeció y se solidarizó con el trabajo que ha hecho la Asamblea Permanente de Personas Afectadas por el vih (APPIA) al destapar esta situación y reclamar al gobierno transparencia para que se garantice un proceso que permita que los medicamentos sigan llegando, sin obstáculos, a las personas que viven con vih.

Lamenta ataque de odio a club LGBTQ+ en Colorado…

El activista de derechos humanos Pedro Julio Serrano lamentó, hoy, el ataque de odio perpetrado esta madrugada en la discoteca Club Q en Colorado donde han muerto ya cinco personas y hay más de 18 heridos.

«Despertar con la horrible noticia de que ocurrió otro ataque de odio es desgarrador. ¿Hastá cuando? ¡Basta ya! Las personas LGBTQ+ somos seres humanos que merecemos vivir en paz, equidad y libertad. Mi solidaridad con los seres queridos de las víctimas y con los sobrevivientes de este ataque vil, mezquino e inhumano», aseveró Serrano.

El portavoz de Puerto Rico Para Todes recordó que una masacre similar afectó severamente a Puerto Rico hace más de seis años cuando 49 personas fueron asesinadas en Pulse en Orlando, donde 24 de las víctimas fatales eran puertorriqueñas.

«Nos ha tocado de cerca ese odio que arrecia, que se ensaña, que nos caza por culpa de la retórica de odio de los grupos fundamentalistas, de los políticos que nos usan de balones politiqueros para adelantar sus agendas divisivas. Es hora de que detengan esa guerra que nos han declarado a las personas LGBTQ+, pues solo queremos vivir en igualdad de condiciones. Ya basta de tanto odio —basta», concluyó Serrano.

Exige investigación independiente sobre irregularidades en caso de Kevin Fret…

El activista de derechos humanos Pedro Julio Serrano exigió, hoy, que se investiguen —de manera independiente— las irregularidades que se han ventilado públicamente sobre el mal manejo del caso de Kevin Fret.

«Es inaudito que empecemos a conocer de las irregularidades que se dieron al inicio de la investigación del asesinato de Kevin Fret. Es harto conocido que las primeras 48 horas son cruciales para poder esclarecer cualquier crimen. De lo que se desprende públicamente, la Policía fue negligente en su investigación inicial. Si a eso se le suman las violaciones éticas que se le imputan al agente investigador, estamos hablando de una posible negligencia criminal», aseveró Serrano.

El portavoz de Puerto Rico Para Todes exigió, además, que se investiguen las alegaciones por la fiscal del caso que del Departamento de Justicia, en aquel entonces, se ordenó paralizar la investigación.

«Estamos en un país donde ‘se le fabrica un caso a cualquiera’, como dijera la entonces Secretaria de Justicia, Wanda Vázquez, y resulta que bajo su mando se dieron instrucciones para paralizar una investigación de un posible crimen de odio. Aquí hay que llegar hasta las últimas consecuencias para determinar si hubo negligencia criminal y procesar a los responsables de ser necesario. Ya basta de amapuchar. Hay que hacerle justicia a Kevin Fret ya», concluyó Serrano.

Pedro Julio Serrano llora la muerte de mujer asesinada…

Por Metro

El activista de los derechos de la comunidad LGBTTQ+, Pedro Julio Serrano, reaccionó este domingo a la muerte de Iraida Hornedo Camacho, la fémina que fue hallada asesinada de varios impactos de bala junto al expresidente del Frente Unido de Policías Organizados (FUPO), Diego Figueroa Torres.

Hoy lloro a una gran mujer que murió a manos de un macharrán. Otro policía que asesinó a una mujer y luego cobardemente se suicidó. Iraida irradiaba amor, era empática, solidaria (…) Descansa, querida Iraida. Seguiremos luchando —en tu nombre— para que todas las mujeres puedan vivir en paz, equidad y libertad. #NiUnaMás #NiUnaMenos”, escribió Serrano en Facebook.

Serrano indicó que Hornedo Camacho fue una líder, al abrir espacios de estudio y trabajo para personas trans.

Una gran amiga, un ser humano ejemplar”, añadió.

Los cadáveres de Hornedo Camacho y Figueroa Torres fueron encontrados ayer, sábado, en el interior de una guagua en la urbanización Villa Nevárez, cerca de la antigua cárcel Oso Blanco, en Río Piedras.

Actualmente, las autoridades investigan el caso como un feminicidio y suicidio.