Monday, February 18, 2013

My Letter to President Obama and Congress Regarding HIV/AIDS Funding Cuts

Dear President Obama & Members of Congress,

My name is Aaron Laxton and I am one of approximately 1.2 million Americans that are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. I work full-time as a case manager helping homeless veterans reenter society. I pay all of my taxes, am a law abiding citizen and a veteran of the United States Army; I believe in the spirit of democracy however that spirit is breaking. It is breaking as a result of Washington politics that refuses to come together in any meaningful fashion in order to avoid sequestration. As a result of your inability and unwillingness to work together the citizens must deal with the subsequent consequences. Patients who are living with HIV/AIDS cannot and will not tolerate Washington agendas, personal egos and a general inability to work together, slowly kill us through balancing the budget on the backs of AIDS patients.

Up to 16,000 fewer patients, including me will have access to life saving HIV medications. It is these medications that we depend on to keep us alive. In my particular case, although I have insurance through my employer, HIV is considered a “Pre-existing Condition” and will not be covered until September 2013.

I was diagnosed with HIV on June 6, 2011 however if sequestration occurs approximately 650,000 fewer HIV tests could be conducted by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) State grantees, which could result of increased future HIV transmissions, deaths from HIV, and costs in health care. It is estimated that an additional 800 individuals will contract HIV due to reductions in the availability of HIV tests and prevention.  

Sequestration is tantamount to murder since withholding lifesaving medications and treatments will have reprehensible and catastrophic affects for those who are infected with HIV.  Additionally for all of the strides that we have made during the past 31 years, the potential exists that funding cuts will delay innovative treatments as well as a cure for HIV. The National Institute of Health will have to halt, crucial and life-saving research that will squander enormous scientific opportunities including the AIDS vaccine and other cure research.

Finally the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) would face delays in translating new science and technology into regulatory policy and decision-making, resulting in delays in new drug approvals. As a consequence of the automatic budget-cuts implemented, the FDA will also be forced to reduce operational support for meeting performance goals, such as the recently negotiated user fee goals on new innovative prescription drugs and medical devices.

My life is truly in your hands and without intervention the reality exists that I will soon be forced to make choices regarding how I will the medications that will keep me healthy and alive. I urge President Obama and the Congress to work together in order to avoid sequestration. If no compromise can be reached then the blood of Americans dying as a result of AIDS will be on your hands.
Aaron M. Laxton
HIV-Infected Queer, Activist and Blogger


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