out of turn

Move Over Joe Wilson, There’s a New (AIDS) Heckler in the House

There’s been Joe “You Lie!” Wilson, Lane “Repeal DOMA Now!” Hudson, and now Terri “Change the Definition!” Smith-Caronia, who interrupted New York State’s AIDS Advisory Council meeting to demand state health officials redefine the meaning of HIV.

No, Smith-Caronia (the vice president of Housing Works’s New York Advocacy and Organizing unit) doesn’t want “HIV” to stand for something else. She and Housing Works just want New York State to move away from the term “HIV illness,” which is the standard by which New Yorkers qualify for HIV treatment, and start using “HIV-positive,” which the org says would enable “thousands of poor people with HIV throughout New York State” to receive “lifesaving supportive services, such as housing and nutritional assistance.” With the “Redefine It/Change the Definition” campaign, Housing Works has already been lobbying the AIDS Advisory Council to update its threshold for qualification.

Meanwhile, Housing Works says “AIDS Institute staffers and State Health Commissioner [Richard F.] Daines acknowledged the pressing problem of the outdated definition but still have not fulfilled their promise to bring the issue up with the AIDS Advisory Council.”

Was Smith-Caronia’s interruption a violation of decorum? Sure. But it got us — and, soon, others — talking about it.