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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An AIDS Free Generation: Is it possible

President Barack Obama included AIDS in his first State of the Union speech after his re-election:

“.... the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades by.... saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.”

Watching the State of the Union last night I was taken that President Obama made the mention that we could have an AIDS free generation and not only have it but it is within reach.  This clearly, to me, seems like an incredible idea but I seriously have my doubts--- and here is why:
  1. I have been involved with the AIDS crisis since 1986 when I first became aware of it at the tender age of just 19 years old when a friend of mine was diagnosed with what then was "the gay cancer" and was within six months dead!  That has been nearly thirty years of involvement and I have heard a lot of things in those thirty years that promise great advances, possible cures and even scheduled treatments. I also have watched six hundred friends die from AIDS before I stopped counting. I also know that we are far from an AIDS free generation when it seems so little is being done.
  2. FACT:   As the U.S. observes the tenth anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the landmark global AIDS program which President George W. Bush first proposed in his 2003 State of the Union address, advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urged President Obama to reconsider recent funding cuts he made to the lifesaving AIDS program which has saved millions of lives worldwide. AHF advocates also note that given his actions versus his rhetoric, President Obama’s highly touted goal of an ‘AIDS-free generation’—which received only a glancing mention in his State of the Union address last nightt—is unlikely to be achieved, as the funding cuts he’s instituted take devastating—and deadly—effect globally.       “By all accounts, PEPFAR has been a tremendous success, saving millions of lives while also serving as one of America’s most successful diplomacy efforts over the past decade,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “However, President Obama is also the first U.S. president to cut global AIDS funding, a shameful retreat at a time when, according to World Health Organization, there are 6.8 million who need treatment now but aren't receiving it, and at a time when we are seeing the real impact of treatment on saving lives and reducing new infections.”
    3. FACT:  A new survey focused on gay and bisexual men who use apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Manhunt to meet sexual partners found that nearly half had engaged in unprotected sex.
    Conducted by New York's Community Healthcare Network (CHN), "Zero Feet Away: Perpective on HIV/AIDS and Unprotected Sex in Men Who Have Sex With Men Utilizing Location-based Mobile Apps" found that although 80 percent of respondents said they were knowledgeable in how the HIV virus was transmitted, while 46.4 percent admitted to having bareback sex always, often or sometimes.
         The most frequently-cited reason for bare-backing among the 725 gay and bisexual men who were surveyed was "with condoms, [sex] does not feel the same."
         "Clearly, we've come a long way in educating people about HIV and AIDS," Dr. Freddy Molano, Assistant Vice President of HIV Programs and Services at CHN, said in the report. "Yet among certain populations, HIV/AIDS is on the ride, and that's alarming."
         Added co-author Renato Barucco: "The survey findings show a clear disconnect between the reasons why men engage in unprotected anal intercourse and the way prevention initiatives attempt to address risk behaviors."
     4. The following is simply my opinion and should be taken as thus:

     In nearly the nearly thirty years of work in the trenches I have seen it all-- people who are compliant with all of there drugs and still die, people who are complaint with all of their drugs and who somehow pull through (in my circle there are five of us, counting myself, who have lived twenty years or more with AIDS), I have seen lovers thrown out of their homes because one of them died and a family took literally everything, I have seen hospital trays left in the hall because no one wanted to go into the hospital room.  On that note I have a very good friend who works at a "Christian" Nursing home and the staff when they found out a specific resident had AIDS and was there to to die, wanted nothing to do with him, let alone for care him-- this was just LAST YEAR!

    Yet President Obama has the gall to say we "are within grasp of an AIDS free generation. Really?  People can not afford or get access to basic HIV medications in Africa and "we are within grasp of an AIDS free generation.  Really?  The government keeps cutting funding to not only research a cure, cut funding to Ryan White Access and cut funding for services for people living with AIDS and yet somehow we are within reach to an AIDS free generation.  Really?  

    We have the largest influx of gay bareback movies, gay bareback porn studios and a gay society-- which I myself am gay--are largely burned out, overworked, underpaid and in my opinion under appreciated when it comes to what we do for AIDS.  

    We have a young gay society under twenty-five who know precious little about the struggle we the generation into our forties and more who were there and saw first hand all of the death, all of the suffering, all of the protests in the streets and I will go out on a limb and say attend an ACT UP funeral of one of its members in front of the White House with the "dead" in a pine coffin laying in the streets and we the mourners demanding change.

    We have Californians having the discussion whether condoms should be on all porn shoots gay or straight, laws in California which have been passed and yet we can not move past the idea that somehow by "enforcing" condom use we are stepping on the toes of those wishing "their freedom of expression".  Really?  But yet somehow we are within grasp of a generation that is AIDS free.

    We have a vast number of Americans who still view "victims of HIV/AIDS" as the minorities-- you know the "them" we always speak of--- gays, African Americans, drug users, prostitutes, the poor, the uneducated, the brother on the down low, the Hispanic woman who sleeps around to much, the gay man who who still anonymous gay sex in bath houses or sex clubs.... when in all reality it has been more than this group of "minorities" for a LONG time.  Yet somehow we still can not have a honest, frank and open discussion about sex--- yet President Obama believes we are within grasp of an AIDS free generation.

    5.  FACT:   We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation when funding is cut. 

     We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation when people refuse to have an open, frank, honest discussion about sex.  

    We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation until the church as a whole not only embraces those living with the disease, but gets off their knees praying but actually does something to address the issue, help those in need of help and make a concentrated effort to embrace everyone into their fold.

    We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation until we do everything in our power to prevent sexual transmission to those who choose to make porn a career.

    We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation until we make AIDS medication to every single living human being on on the planet, and not only make it available but affordable.

    We can not and will not have an AIDS free generation until we do everything within our power to help our brothers and sisters, like myself, who are living with AIDS.  We need to be able to provide medical coverage that would continue at affordable rates for those wishing to return to work, we need to provide the time off needed by our employees if they need it for medical purposes to recover from an AIDS related illness, we need real equal employment opportunities for those living with AIDS.  And finally we need to provide affordable and accessible college opportunities to those living with AIDS-- many who do not realize that there is available funding where we could in all honesty pay very little out of pocket to not only get a degree but get a job that would once and for all get us out of poverty.

    Finally, we can not and will not have an AIDS free generation until we treat this disease as a human disease and not a minority disease.  That the attitude and change that needs to take place is what has happened with Americans embracing Cancer (i.e. The Susan G. Koman Fundraising events), Heart Disease and even Alzheimer's and until all of these things Mr. President happens we will NEVER have an AIDS free generation!

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