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Jewel Thais-Williams is getting a Square named in her honor

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Jewel Thais-Williams just keeps making history! After founding Jewel’s Catch One, the longest Black-owned disco in America that provided a safe haven for Black LGBT people when racism was still blatantly rampant in the Los Angeles LGBT community, Jewel and her wife Rue Thais-Williams took those Catch dollars and helped start several AIDS organizations and the first shelter for women living with HIV/AIDS and their children in South Los Angeles.

That deserves more than a pat on the back, says LA City Council President Herb Wesson.

On Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m., Wesson will officially designate the intersection of Pico Blvd. and Norton Ave. at the site of Catch One as “JEWEL THAIS-WILLIAMS SQUARE.”

“Everybody deserves to be able to enjoy a night out where they can feel safe and welcomed, but before Jewel Thais-Williams that was not the reality for Los Angeles’ Black LGBTQ+ community,” Wesson said in a press release. “With Jewel’s Catch One, she built a home for young, Black queer people who were often isolated and shut out at their own homes, and in doing so changed the lives of so many. Jewel is more than deserving to be the first Black lesbian woman with a dedicated square in the City of Los Angeles for this and so many other reasons.”

With the designation, Thais-Williams becomes the second Black woman in the history of City of Los Angeles to have a square named after her and the first Black lesbian to receive the honor, says Wesson.

Members of the public can RSVP online to attend the free ceremony at the Catch, 4067 Pico Blvd in LA, by clicking here. The unveiling will be followed by a reception with legendary Catch One deejay DJ KeyKey.

“I’m grateful and overwhelmed to have been honored by LA City Council President Herb Wesson,” Thais-Williams tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s been my pleasure to serve the LGBT and other communities over the years.”

After graduating from UCLA, starting a business, then opening the club in 1973, Jewel went back to school to learn how to prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes that disproportionately impact minority populations. Even while still running Catch One, Jewel flew to China to study alternative medicine and eventually received her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Samra University in 1998.

She subsequently opened the non-profit Village Health Foundation as a safe space to heal, relieve pain and educate lower-income communities on nutrition and living a more healthy lifestyle. The affordable clinic, which accepts most insurances, also uses auricular acupuncture to  address PTSD associated with being a long-term AIDS survivor, various addictions, as well as the impact of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and other injustices.

“What people may not realize is that there is an intersection between injustice and health. The impact of constant, daily racism on the emotions – on the mind, body and spirit – can have profound health consequences. For instance, people may not know that different kinds of depression are really a form of PTSD that can be at least temporarily relieved through Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture,” Thais-Williams says. “In the early days, I was happy to help people come out and deal with AIDS and addictions at the Catch. Now, at the Village Health clinic, I’m counseling and helping people with a broad range of health issues to be their healthiest selves.”

 

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Monkeypox outbreak, CDC asks for reaction guided by science, not stigma

CDC says cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director, CDC (Screenshot/YouTube)

ATLANTA – During a press briefing Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention confirmed that there are now seven states reporting active cases of infection of the Monkeypox virus.

Walensky told reporters that cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York. She added that all of the reported cases so far have been gay or bisexual men.

Samples from the nine identified cases were sent to the CDC for additional confirmatory testing and genomic investigation, she noted, and there are efforts to learn how each individual contracted the virus.

The CDC Director then called for an approach “guided by science, not by stigma.”

“This is a community that has the strength and has demonstrated the ability to address challenges to their health by focusing on compassion and science,” Walensky said in a reference to the AIDS pandemic.

“While some groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, infectious diseases do not care about state or international borders. They’re not contained within social networks and the risk of exposure is not limited to any one particular group,” she cautioned.

Walensky implored people “to approach this outbreak without stigma and without discrimination.”

Health officials on both sides of the Atlantic are cautioning gay and bisexual men to be cautious as numbers of infections of the non-lethal monkeypox continue to climb. The outbreak according to the World Health Organization can be traced to sexual activity stemming from LGBTQ+ events, one in the Spanish in the Canary Islands and the other in Belgium.

The United Nations’ AIDS agency (UNAID) in a press release Monday decried the semingly homophobic news coverage of the recent outbreaks of monkeypox in Europe and the United States.

“Lessons from the AIDS response show that stigma and blame directed at certain groups of people can rapidly undermine outbreak response,” UNAIDS said.

Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

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First case of Monkeypox reported in California in Sacramento

This is the first case of the monkeypox infection reported in the state of California according to Public Health officials

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Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye (Screenshot/Zoom)

SACRAMENTO – During a virtual Zoom press conference Tuesday morning, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye told reporters that her department is investigating a potential case of infection of monkeypox in a Sacramento area resident.

This is the first case of the monkeypox infection reported in the state of California according to Public Health officials.

Dr. Kasirye said that Public Health and is waiting for confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), according to Public Health on the case and that resident had recently returned from Europe. Kasirye added the patient is isolated at home and has not been in contact with any other people and any risk to the general public is very minimal.

According to Public Health, monkeypox does not naturally occur in the United States and US cases are related to international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease may exist.

Symptoms may not appear for seven to 14 days after infection and can last two to four weeks, according to Public Health.

The chairman of the World Health Organization Emergency Committee, Professor David L. Heymann told reporters Monday that WHO researchers determined that cases were confirmed stemming from an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the Canary Islands that drew tens of thousands of revelers and linked to the Darklands Festival, a large-scale fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, Belgium.

Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

Monkeypox symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash can appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body one to three days after the appearance of a fever, according to Public Health.

For more information regarding Monkeypox visit the official CDC monkeypox page or the CDPH page on the disease.

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CDC & World Health Org issue warning to gay/bi men over monkeypox

Chance of exposure to monkeypox right now doesn’t mean the risk is limited only to the gay and bisexual community

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CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia (US Government/CDC)

ATLANTA – Health officials on both sides of the Atlantic are cautioning gay and bisexual men to be cautious as numbers of infections of the non-lethal monkeypox continue to climb. The outbreak according to the World Health Organization can be traced to sexual activity stemming from LGBTQ+ events, one in the Spanish in the Canary Islands and the other in Belgium.

The chairman of the World Health Organization Emergency Committee, Professor David L. Heymann told reporters that WHO researchers determined that cases were confirmed stemming from an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the Canary Islands that drew tens of thousands of revelers and linked to the Darklands Festival, a large-scale fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, Belgium.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected,” Heymann said. “And it looks like the sexual contact has now amplified that transmission.”

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann added. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the US and other European countries.”

A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of rash development in 1968. (CDC/Reuters)

On Monday, Dr. John Brooks, an official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta told reporters that anyone can contract monkeypox through close personal contact regardless of sexual orientation. He added that so far many of the people affected globally are men who identify as gay or bisexual. Though they may have greater chance of exposure to monkeypox right now, that doesn’t mean the risk is limited only to the gay and bisexual community, he said.

The United Nations’ AIDS agency (UNAID) in a press release Monday decried the semingly homophobic news coverage of the recent outbreaks of monkeypox in Europe and the United States.

“Lessons from the AIDS response show that stigma and blame directed at certain groups of people can rapidly undermine outbreak response,” UNAIDS said.

Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

University of Maryland’s Vice President and Chief of Infectious Diseases at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Center, Dr. Faheem Younus, tweeted a note of reassurance Monday; “Monkeypox cases are concerning but the risk of this becoming a COVID like pandemic is ZERO%”

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