Its always been up to those of us living and dying of HIV to be heard and never let them forget.it's definitely OUR problem to keep the pressure on. Quite frankly, with only maybe 1.5 million people in America infected, HIV really isn't that big of a problem in the States - especially to the 300 million who probably aren't even "affected" by HIV. If we don't talk about it, there are a lot of other health advocates who will gladly step up to talk about "their" illness (or disparity - don't forget all the other social issues that want the stage.)
I think some of the silence is the failure of consumer/PLWH advocacy groups. How many of those groups bought tv time? how many contacted reporters to get an article done (last week leading up to WAD)? How many wrote an op-ed or letter to the ed? How few actually sponsored WAD events or collaborated with others (HIV agencies, or local governments) to push some community awareness? How many joined with advocates of another health care issue or disparity who might have a similar agenda?
just to be clear, i'm not ripping on any group or any area specifically for these failures. Well actually I am; but that's for my own state of South Carolina's PLWH advocacy groups which rarely advocate. As long as they can get bodies in a seat to justify the funding, as long as everyone gets a free sandwich (and you better be giving out those gas cards too!), and as long as they call the event "advocacy" or "training", then it's all good for them. (you know, it's easy to avoid stigma when you don't even put yourself out there. LOL) A core group of advocates here from around the state have come to realize that we must strike out on our own if we're ever going to get passed the complacency of a large group of PLWH who live in the capital. (I have to give a lot of credit to our Ryan White Part C planning committee for helping some consumers from around the state to connect and in encouraging (and empowering) us to do the work that needs to be done while others sit around.
As CDC prevention interventions get more targeted to specific risk groups, the HIV prevention/education message is totally lost to the larger population who will most likely never be in a high risk group (not to mention those other risk groups which aren't even targeted). I often voice my worries about that at the state level. While I can understand that funding issues and collected data can push our interventions to focus on a specific group (right now, most often black MSM ages 18-26), I wonder what is happening in the white MSM group ages 18-26 who are getting NO educational/prevention interventions. In five years from now, we will quit targeting black MSM for prevention and focus on the exploding "white hiv epidemic"?
sorry for all the wandering thoughts above. LOL I'm off to my WAD event, where I'll be the guest speaker at the local university about PrEP before our candlelight service. I'll check in later with y'all!