Happy World AIDS Day!
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and it is also World AIDS Day! So I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.
Dab the AIDS Bear and I had to be up very early this morning. After taking the dogs for their early morning walk, I had to jump in the shower and get ready to leave for the Broward Performing Arts Center where we had our World AIDS Day morning event.
Dab the AIDS Bear and I were two of the featured speakers for the day. My topic was Enrich. When I was first told I must admit I thought it was a strange word to use for HIV and AIDS. But after thinking about it for a few days, I realized how enriched my life has been because of having HIV and AIDS.
I have been so fortunate to not only live three decades with the virus but because of being an activist have met and worked with some incredible people. I remember the very first AIDS Candlelight Walk that we had in San Francisco. It was way back in the 80s before we had any life saving HIV medications to help keep people alive alike today. Some of my friends were so sick they could barely walk but they were out there. We all were out there. So we could remember those who had already died and those who were getting sicker by the day.
But there is sad news marring our day of remembering all those who are gone and those living with HIV and AIDS. World AIDS Day marred by record ADAP waiting lists.
On what would typically be hailed as an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and celebrate progress achieved in fighting the disease, will ultimately be marred by the reality that more than 4,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States have either been placed on waiting lists or denied treatment under the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Current ADAP waiting lists are nearly four times higher than the levels reached during the previous crisis in 2004 - 05, under President George W. Bush. While President Barack Obama deserves credit for developing the nation's first ever National AIDS Strategy, ending the HIV travel ban and supporting needle exchange programs, his record on ADAP is no better than his predecessor in the Oval Office.
The news just keeps getting worse, too! In Louisiana, beginning on December 1st, all persons receiving their medicines through Medicare/Medicaid will be allowed four prescriptions only. All other must have prior written authorization from a doctor, stating prescriptions are medically necessary. In Ohio, proposed changes include the removal of all local consortia activities (removal of client voices at the local level), and the institution of medical criteria (last proposed was to cut anyone that had never had their CD4 count drop below 200 during the course of their entire illness). In addition, ALL of activities funded by the PART B program could be subject to waiting lists as written, which could include areas of Medical Case Management, Prescription Drugs, Health Insurance, Emergency, Dental and Mental Health. Then there is Florida, where 350 ADAP clients will be disenrolled from the program early next year.
But I would like to try and end this blog on a somewhat positive note. This evening, Broward House sponsored our 5th annual Candlelight Vigil. The walk started at Hagen Park behind Wilton Manors City Hall at 7:30pm. The precession went to the shops of Wilton Manors where everyone gathered with the light of their candles uniting as one. It was a very moving site. Stay tuned for pictures and a slide show from the events.
However you celebrated your World AIDS Day, I hope you had a great one. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,