Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Movers & Shakers & Regular Joes

It's not possible to walk the hallowed marble halls of government and not be impressed. It's easy to get tongue-tied in the presence of Legislators, Attorney General and the big city Mayor usually seen on a TV screen or campaign flier. But if you're lucky enough to have elected a few of the good guys, they'll greet you at the end of a long day as if yours was their most important appointment, look you in the eye and take humble interest in what their constituent has to say. I'm one of the lucky ones.
In addition to EIP, we encouraged our District 1 officials to retain funding for the critical nutrition and prevention programs that put Washington on the leading edge in the early war on AIDS. At a time when HIV-infected individuals are living longer, in growing numbers, yet a poor economy makes it increasingly difficult to afford expensive medicines and proper nutrition to maintain effectiveness, now is not the time to make the most vulnerable more so.
I've walked this road before but today it took a turn. Our elected officials listened intently and nodded knowingly but more slowly and with a sadness in their eyes. As is likely playing out in every state across the union, they appeared downright defeated by the monumental challenge of balancing a budget with an ever deflating dollar. They spoke of essential services, protecting the most vulnerable, and maintaining a shred of dignity in their decisions to cut the rest or dare impose a tax. I do not envy them and from today's experience have an even greater respect for those regular Joes working to make the best of a very bad situation.

District 1

Is well represented by 7 constituents including 1 young person about to reach voting age. Over the course of the afternoon, we'll have a 10 minute meeting with our Senator and each of our 2 State Representatives. For one, we're seeking to retain funding for the HIV Early Intervention Program that provides HIV medications and subsidized insurance to low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid.
Bret relied on this program 15 years ago to cover his insurance which at the time was more than $750/mo. It also covered the bulk of his drug costs. I saw the bill for one 30-day supply of only one of the many drugs he took daily. It was $350 - in 1995. Those I've talked to today are spending in the neighborhood of $1500/mo on their treatment regimen.

The March

More than 450 Washingtonians from 45 of the state's 49 Congressional districts marched onto the Olympia campus of our state capitol.

The Cost of Cuts

Two years ago I traveled to Olympia with my friend and fellow AIDS Rider, Laura, to lobby our state representatives for passage of 4 bills critical to HIV prevention and the health and well-being of those with HIV/AIDS. All 4 bills passed, successfully funding 3 programs.
Today we'll encourage preservation of that funding in light of the inevitable cuts every state is forced to consider under current economic conditions. I get that these times mean sacrifices will have to be made on all fronts though my personal preference is that we not be short-sighted, cutting programs that quickly cause costs to rise in other areas of the budget. It never pays to become complacent is the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Friday, February 13, 2009

When Virtual Doesn't Cut It

IM, email, Facebook, text, blog.
Spell it out, emoticon, abbreviate.
Be in touch - at home, at work, mobile, locate me.
Friends, colleagues, family, classmates, friends of friends, strangers.

How are you? Baby sleeping? Help me find a new job. Join my group. 25 Random Things. Support my Cause. New pics. Old pics. Laugh at my video. Elect a President.

Then tragedy strikes. News, condolences ripple over the air.

But all you really want is a human hug.