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HIV Criminalization Laws Change in North Carolina
The North Carolina Commission for Public Health recently voted to modernize North Carolina’s HIV control measures, a series of statutes written into state law in 1988 to help protect people against HIV infection. The movement to modernize the law was spearheaded by the North Carolina AIDS Action Network.
The centerpiece of the original law made it a crime for a HIV-positive person to not disclose to a sexual partner that they were HIV-positive, or to engage in sexual intercourse without a condom. Public health still strongly encourages people to have open and honest conversations with partners about sexual history and risk, and to use condoms to prevent transmission of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, the old criminal laws were counterproductive to public health. They were stigmatizing and discouraged people who might be infected with HIV to get tested or to disclose their status for fear of criminal prosecution.
Prior to the recent modernization, the North Carolina HIV control measures had not been revised since they were passed in 1988. Since then, much has changed in both medical  science and in social attitudes surrounding HIV. For example, if a patient follows their prescribed regimen of anti-retroviral medications, they can often deplete the level of HIV in their body so much that they achieve “viral suppression”. A virally suppressed person is unable to transmit HIV during sex, whether or not a condom is used. The “U=U” movement (Undetectable Equals Untransmittable), which was recently validated by the Centers for Disease Control, informs the modernized control measures. The revised statute states that a person who has been virally suppressed for at least six months no longer has to inform their partners about their HIV status. Also, a person who is HIV-positive is no longer legally required to use a condom during sexual intercourse if:
People who are HIV-positive and not virally suppressed are still required by state law to disclose their status, even if their partner is on PrEP or HIV-positive.
The modernized control measures also allow HIV-positive individuals to donate organs to other HIV-positive individuals, which was not allowed under previous law. Additionally, the revised law de-stigmatizes some antiquated language, exchanging “a person infected with AIDS” to “a person living with HIV”.
Not only does the modernized language align more closely with scientific advances and decrease the stigma and discrimination of the original text, it also allows healthcare professionals to focus on people living with HIV who are not currently linked with medical care, and connect them to treatment so that they can achieve viral suppression.
The full text of the new North Carolina HIV control measures can be found here.
Eat Out For a Good Cause
Become an Ambassador for Dining Out For Life!
Dining Out For Life® (DOFL) 2018 will take place on Thursday, April 26. Over 100 fine restaurants across Western North Carolina will donate 20% of their proceeds on that day to WNCAP. What is the most important part of WNCAP's biggest fundraiser? The Ambassadors, of course!
Being a DOFL Ambassador is a blast. You link up with one of the 2018 Participating Restaurants, perhaps one you already love and dine at frequently. Then, you invite all your friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues to dine out on Thursday, April 26. On that day, you spend time at the restaurant during a breakfast, lunch, or dinner shift of your choosing. You explain to all the friendly staff and diners how important the mission of WNCAP is and how important Dining Out For Life is in helping WNCAP prevent new cases of HIV and provide compassionate care to those already living with HIV/AIDS.
Being an Ambassador is a great way of giving back to our community in a fun and lively (and tasty) environment. It's also an active and unique way of connecting with old friends, new acquaintances, and potential clients or business contacts. Not to mention you'll get to attend the awesome DOFL Afterparty at O.Henry's on Thursday night!
If you're interested in becoming a Dining Out For Life Ambassador, check out the list of available restaurants and shifts. Then, contact Chris by emailing or calling (828) 252-7489 ext. 315. Helping out your community has never been more fun!
Stretch Out For Life
Asheville Yoga Center Will Donate 10% to WNCAP on February 22
WNCAP recently announced that Asheville Yoga Center chose WNCAP as its Charity of the Month. During the month of February, AYC has been collecting donations for WNCAP at their studio & boutique.
But don't leave your yoga mat just yet - this Thursday, February 22, 10% of the Yoga Center's proceeds will be generously contributed to WNCAP. So if you've been thinking about taking a yoga class but just needed that little extra push, Thursday, February 22 would be a great day to start.
In recent years, yoga has been increasingly utilized by people living with HIV/AIDS for its physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Yoga reduces stress, which is proven to have a negative impact on the body's immune system. Yoga can also improve a person's emotional state and outlook on life, critical factors in combating a chronic disease like HIV. 
The Opioid Crisis
Steady Collective to Host Opioid Overdose Community Forum on February 23
On Friday, February 23, local harm reduction organization The Steady Collective will host an Opioid Overdose Community Forum from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Haywood Street Congregation in Downtown Asheville.
The forum will feature a panel of harm reduction professionals who work in syringe exchanges, overdose prevention programs, and homeless outreach services. They will talk about what they are seeing on the ground in Western North Carolina and what they are doing to support people during a devastating overdose crisis. Time will be allotted for questions and for an exchange of ideas about ways to address overdose in the coming year and provide care for the people most impacted.
The panelists will include:
Adrienne Sigmon, BeLoved Asheville
Tracey Childers, WNCAP
Michel Guicheney, Steady Collective/Sunrise Peer Support
Hillary Brown, Steady Collective
Sex Work is Work (Part 1)
Our VOICE to Host Planning Meeting Addressing Sex Worker Needs on February 21
On Wednesday, February 21, join community service providers and sex workers for an informal planning meeting around the long term goals of the Asheville Sex Worker Outreach Project (ASWOP). The meeting will be from 4pm-5pm at Firestorm Books & Coffee in West Asheville.

The discussion will center around the state of sex workers in Asheville, how to best advocate for this population, and the mission of the ASWOP coalition. This meeting will be facilitated by Our VOICE and all are welcome, but the discussion will primarily elevate the voices of sex workers in our community. 

If you have any questions or concerns call (828) 252-0562 or email
Injustice Anywhere is Injustice Everywhere
Zero Discrimination Day is March 1
Zero Discrimination Day is an initiative by UNAIDS, the United Nations subgroup dedicated to ending the worldwide AIDS epidemic. Thus, even though the day is designed to generate awareness and action against all forms of discrimination, it is particularly concerned with discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
The right to health is a fundamental human right that includes access to affordable, timely and quality health-care services for all, yet discrimination remains widespread in health care settings, creating a serious barrier to access to HIV services.
On this Zero Discrimination Day, "Raise Your Voice" against all forms of bigotry, especially in the health care sector.
#ZeroDiscrimination #ZeroDiscriminationDay 
Sex Work is Work (Part 2)
International Sex Workers’ Rights Day is March 3
The history of International Sex Workers’ Rights Day goes back to 2001, when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival despite efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to prevent it taking place by pressuring the government to revoke their permit. 
Sex workers face overwhelming challenges, including criminalization, social stigma, vulnerability to abuse, and higher rates of HIV, Hepatitis C, and STIs than the general population.
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Western North Carolina AIDS Project  |  554 Fairview Rd.  |  Asheville, NC 28803
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