September 18, 2008
EAST COAST STANDS AGAINST AIDS
Standing Against AIDS on the Brooklyn Bridge
"Obama or McCain, will you stand against AIDS?" More than 500 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, one stop on the itinerary of the Northeastern caravan of the Stand Against AIDS. The Northeastern caravan is one of nine caravans converging in Oxford, Mississippi on Sept. 26 at the first presidential debate between Sens. Obama and McCain. Their aim? Obtain commitments to from both presidential hopefuls to take meaningful steps toward the creation of a National AIDS Strategy in the first 100 days of occupying the Oval Office.
Activists from up North weren't the only ones making a ruckus: Last Saturday, a “walking” caravan of folks marching 172 miles from Jackson, Mississippi to Oxford kicked off, with a little help from civil rights hero James Meredith. Check out our reports on both the Northeast caravan and the walking march below, and for all the juicy insider info on the progress of the caravans visit to standagainstaids.wordpress.com
RYAN WHITE 'CARE COORDINATION' RAISES EYEBROWS
Something's not quite right about the new DOH plan...
At the last New York City Ryan White planning council meeting in July before the new members take over, the council voted that Ryan White dollars can be used for "HIV Care Coordination," a new initiative intended to reach approximately 4,000 New York City residents living with AIDS who are not accessing AIDS care and services. The new plan sounded like a good idea in theory. But when the full details were revealed at an open meeting last week, advocates were outraged.
The proposed plan would shut out many small community-based organizations in favor of large hospitals. In addition, the plan duplicates services already covered by COBRA case management. Since COBRA services are covered by Medicaid, using Ryan White money possibly violates the federal mandate that Ryan White is the "payer of last resort" and wastes Ryan White dollars on services that are already covered by Medicaid...
PUERTO RICO'S OTHER HALF
Rodriguez founded two syringe exchange programs
As part of Housing Works Harm Reduction month, the Update is spotlighting harm reduction efforts and advocacy in Puerto Rico. "Harm reduction" is any program or policy that promotes the reduction of harm that individuals may do to themselves or others through substance use and/or unsafe sexual practices.
In Fajardo, Puerto Rico, a small city on the east coast of Puerto Rico, a dozen people hang out in a shooting gallery behind projects. These men and women search for a vein that's not dead so they can shoot up heroin. Then along comes Gloria Gonzalez, with clean needles and lollypops. Gonzalez, a 2008 Keith D. Cylar awardee, is treated warmly by the group, most of whom are chronic drug users. "It's hard to get methadone, but I want to quit," one man explained to the Update. Another searched for a vein in his leg since he was out of veins in his arms. One place he wouldn't go was his groin. "I don't want to kill my penis," he said, chuckling.
Because of Gonzalez, a former drug user herself, these people have access to clean needles, which help prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. Yet Gonzalez receives no government funding for her syringe exchange (or "punto fijo" in Spanish) and does the distribution and outreach on her own time. She is laying the groundwork for harm reduction housing and a community center where syringe access will be provided in Fajardo...
DON'T WAIT UNTIL 2012 TO REAUTHORIZE RW
Ryan didn't back down from
a tough fight
Last week I attended a Federal AIDS Policy Partnership Ryan White Work Group Community Consensus Meeting. But maybe I should not have been allowed at the table. The rules of the invitation stated that "organizations are committed to an extension of the FAPP Ryan White Programs." And neither Housing Works, nor I personally, agree that the current Ryan White Care Act should be allowed to stand until 2012. While I understand concerns the community has, there is no excuse for an outdated, deeply flawed, albeit necessary piece of legislation to remain law for three more years. We can't afford another three years in wait-and-see mode. I believe we should re-write Ryan White in 2009.
I appreciate the fact that maintaining a continuity of care is crucial, and that must be addressed in any legislation. And of course, there can always be more information to make an informed recommendation, but I believe we must plow ahead and do that work given the current environment...