I know from speaking to people across the United States that many of you believe that you've never met anyone with HIV or AIDS. So first things first...
My name is Daddy Dab Garner and I am HIV positive and have AIDS. I've been HIV+ since the 1980s which makes me a long term survivor of HIV and AIDS. For whatever reasons, I am still here when most of my friends have been gone for a very long time. Most of my friends died before 1996 because we did not have any of the new life saving HIV medications that are available today.
Now you've met someone with HIV and AIDS so that's out of the way. I'm also someone's son, brother, partner, Dad, uncle, protector, best friend, friend... HIV is just a part of me and I don't let it define me.
However, as a long term survivor I consider it my duty to help those in their own battle for quality health care while dealing with HIV. I also work with this project and other national organizations in preventing future HIV infection by appearing for public appearances at sporting events, gay prides, schools, businesses so people are educated in preventing future HIV infections and know to get tested.
I also work to provide emergency funds for AIDS Service Organizations so they can provide life saving medications when there are people on the ADAP waiting lists in the United States. We are here to help and assists AIDS Service Organizations in their service to the HIV/AIDS community.
This project originally began after I met several people on the ADAP waiting lists while participating in clinical trial studies in the Washington DC area. Two of these people had decided to volunteer for studies to have any access to health care since they both had been placed on the waiting lists. Neither wanted to die and one had children. Due to cutbacks in funding for research, my friend's trial study ended in 2005. Fourteen months later he died in December 2006 while on South Carolina's ADAP Waiting List.
There are many more just like my friend.
More than 600 of our fellow American men women and children were on ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) Waiting Lists during 2007 in the United States. 4 OF OUR FELLOW AMERICANS DIED ON SOUTH CAROLINA'S ADAP WAITING LIST WHILE WE WERE AT HOME ENJOYING THE HOLIDAYS IN DEC 2006.
Even more states have co-pays, limitations on services or HIV medication formularies to avoid starting a waiting lists but these still negatively impact quality of health care for these 138,000 American men, women and children with HIV and AIDS. Even here in Jacksonville, Florida, in Oct. 2007; they are considering a 5 percent of total income co-pay for HIV positive men women and children who don't qualify for Medicaid and don't have private insurance. This is the same group that is in financial distress from lack of coverage under Medicare Part D.
For those of you reading this who are HIV negative, my point is people with HIV and AIDS are JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. We have the same dreams, fears, hopes, disappointments, and daily life struggles as everyone else. The main difference between a HIV+ and a HIV- person is the need for life saving quality health care and medications.
I lived through the start of this epidemic in the 80' while living on the west coast. I lost more friends than I can count before life saving medications were available. I know I stopped counting after I realized I had held over 1,000 men, women and children in my arms as they had died from AIDS. While I may be fortunate enough to have private insurance at this point, statistics show that 80 percent of Americans will be without insurance at some point in their life.
Even if the ADAP Waiting List or even HIV does not affect you now... ONE DAY IT MIGHT. It might be another illness besides HIV. It might be that you have HIV and it advances until where you have to go out on long term disability. It might be that the entire country's HIV health is affected as when our government recently renewed the Ryan White Act and ADAP but didn't fund enough to prevent the 4 men, women and children in South Carolina from dying.
Shouldn't every American have the right to quality health care?
Shouldn't a child of a minimum wage worker have the same access to quality health care as the child of a CEO of a major corporation?
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Inscription at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. reads:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.
Speaking of children with HIV and AIDS is a very personal matter to me. My godchild "Lil Bit" was born with HIV and AIDS in the mid '80s. Because life saving HIV medications were not available at that time, Lil Bit passed away right after her fifth birthday. She was the apple of my eye.
In 2005, I met a wonderful little boy named David. David and his mom were participating in clinical trial studies at the same location as I. Lisa, David's mom, had advanced AIDS so it was very difficult for her to keep up with David. Luckily our monthly visits coincided for over a year so when Lisa would get tired I would take David for walks or out to the children's playground beside their hotel on the institute's grounds. David was the kind of child that people dream about having... polite, respectful, full of life, caring and very loving... and he had full blown AIDS. David unfortunately passed away from complications from AIDS and cancer during Christmas 2006.
I've been very involved in children with HIV and AIDS causes and organizations since I became Lil Bit's godfather in the 80s. That's why the Teddy Bear Touchdown and the Kids HIV Camp that our project does is so important to me. It's horrible enough having this disease as an adult... I couldn't imagine being a child and having to live with it!
My kids (known as Daddy Dab's KIDS) are some of the most courageous, awe inspiring, inspirational children in the world. They not only have all the struggles of normal childhood... but also the burden of having HIV and AIDS.
I hope that enough of you will read about what's going on and care enough about your brothers and sisters to help. For more info on the ADAP Waiting List Crisis in America please see our section on this website. There are links to news and web articles covering the subject matter.
No American man woman or child should have to go to bed at night without the hope of life saving medications. Hope is the greatest medication in the world for it gives the hope of a better tomorrow and country for all of us.
On my blog, I will be giving you a first hand account of a day in the life of a person with HIV/AIDS. I will be discussing my daily routines, medication schedules, side effects, ADAP waiting lists and other HIV community issues, life as a HIV positive man, weight resistance training, nutrition, my search for quality health care and general information in the world of HIV.
THIS BLOG WILL BEGIN ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2007
Thanks for stopping by... I wish you the best in your search of better health care regardless of your HIV status. We are here to help you. If there's anything we can do at the project to assist you, please contact us. Wishing you health, hope and happiness.