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Author Topic: Is AIDS activism still the smart way to go?  (Read 3198 times)

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Offline Gilverto

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  • Posts: 3
Is AIDS activism still the smart way to go?
« on: September 09, 2006, 12:29:56 PM »
Here we are after a quarter century of AIDS.  In all the major cities we have ASOs that ostensibly do whatever they can to assist the affected community.  These major cities even have federal funding available to them in the form of the Ryan White Grant and bodies where the agencies providing services and the people receiving them work to utilize the funds in the best way imaginable.  Here in San Antonio, our Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA) covers four counties or what I believe to be about 3,600 sq. miles and we have about 20 members to our actual planning council.  During the time that I have been aware of my status as a member of the affected community (15 Mon.) I've noticed that we have not bickering, but competition among the agencies for resources which will in turn be provided to the community which then creates a splintering whereby the sum of the parts is less than the whole.  Further, as needs increase and funding decreases the AIDS community is forced to look to the broader community in order to continue to provide the services upon which we have become dependent.  This is actually a positive movement as so often members of our own group are also members of other group needing services so that the resources available now more widely utilized and the entire community becomes more united.

By uniting the wider community we have the ability to lessen the AIDS stigma and simultaneously increase awareness.  Currently in San Antonio we are undergoing a transition from complete dependence on ASOs to a broader approach to service linkage.  This causes people in the broad community to interact and further disseminate information among each other regarding community resources, job vacancies, support groups, etc.  In the process we are interacting with people who might share another plight about which we ourselves are unaware and now our own awareness of other issues has also been increased.  Further it reduces the fragmentation of resources so that the sum of the parts is closer to the whole.

Further, dedicated ASOs offer an additional challenge: stigma.  One who is seen approaching, standing outside, entering or leaving an ASO is assumed by many to be HIV positive.  At least that's how a lot of people feel about it.  I understand that not every one of these individuals is so afflicted, and so do many other people, but not all.  Now then, following that assumption, how many of the members of the groups currently at the highest risk want to so much as tempt people to think that way about them?  Furthermore, how many of those people want to be associated with the "gay man's disease"?  This is not to say that our ASOs are during a poor job, in fact I think that the vast majority of them are doing very well!  But, a broader approach would benefit everyone involved.

As I've stated earlier, most PWAs have secondary and tertiary issues in life.  Some have Hepatitis or Diabetes, others may be suffering from substance abuse issues or be homeless.  Financial issues are almost always present as drug costs are prohibitive and the ability to work often suffers tremendously.  Others have mental issues.  The bottom line is that we currently have methods, systems or programs in the general community to serve these populations, but providing them through separate structures creates undue stress, confusion and even hardship on those accessing services.  Instead a united structure would allow for coordination of services, reduce stress and alleviate double counting as funding cycles approach.  Thereby simplifying the funding process and providing more "bang for your buck"
--- Gilverto

Offline Juzme3165

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  • Posts: 24
Re: Is AIDS activism still the smart way to go?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2006, 09:28:09 PM »
Interesting view.  I can only agree in part though.  HIV/AIDS issues are unique to say the least and need to be addressed carefully.  Consolidation may not be the answer.  Reduction in ASO's is another win for cutting funding.  I think the real answer is the PWA demand the ASO's get off their asses and stop posing for the camera and stabbing eachother in the back.  Each ASO has an obligation to advocate for PWA and if they were doing this funding would regularly increase and ease the burden felt in our communities. 

We have allowed these issues to lay on the table for way too long.  In the meantime we have lost political clout and public visibility with the exception of an occasional AIDS Walk.  WTF is that?  When we don't want to get involved we allow others to take control of the very organizations that represent us and too often the result is a half hearted bitch session about how there is no funding.  There is no funding because we allowed these bozo's to fragment a once strong political lobby.  Playing according to the rules will only cost lives and if we don't take that seriously then we will suffer.

I don't believe there isn't enough money.  I believe we let congress take our funding without any serious resistance.  (I do however empathise with the reality of what your trying to say..)  Peace,



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