Thursday, February 14, 2013
HIV will not kill you but your passivity and laziness will!
By: Aaron Laxton, HIV-infected Queer activist and blogger
Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to speak at the ADAP Association Summit in Washington, DC. It was during my remarks that I posed the question, “If we simply provide medications to those living with HIV/AIDS yet we do nothing to improve their quality of life, what have we ultimately achieved?” The reality for those living with HIV is that quality of life is directly being threatened. It is being threatened and it must not be allowed to continue! Any meaningful existence for HIV/AIDS patients is directly being threatened in the form cost-containment measures with ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program), reduction of HIV/AIDS program funding, increased HIV Criminalization efforts and outrageous pricing for new Anti-Retroviral Drugs in the name of research and development, just to name a few. In 2010 Gilead Sciences controlled at least 40 percent of the market share for HIV/AIDS therapies and showed profits of over $6.3 billion.
While some may call me an alarmist and radical, the fact remains that those of us living with HIV/AIDS are simply viewed as a “past-epidemic; a closed chapter- a black mark on our history marked by political-inaction, marginalization and demoralization”; take your medications and do not rock the boat is the current mentality! It is my opinion; big-pharma has bought the silence of a new generation of HIV patients thus quelling outrage over the lack of a CURE after thirty-two years. All of the advancements, therapies and medications we currently have came as a direct result of action from a generation that knew they would never be alive to see it. So please spare me the rhetoric that says, “We have never been closer to a cure as we are right now.” Where is the damn cure?
The Journal of the AIDS Society published new research that projected life-expectancies to approximately 69 years. One key challenge is that an aging population of patients living with HIV present researchers and clinicians with more questions than answers. Our understanding of AIDS-related malignancies has improving unfortunately patients that survived the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic are now staring a new insidious-challenge in directly in the face. Is it related to aging, anti-retroviral drugs, HIV/AIDS or all the above?
While aging populations of HIV/AIDS patients face significant challenges, the HIV/AIDS movement faces profound challenges which could prove fatal if not addressed. We must address philosophical questions regarding where we have been and where we are going if we are to ultimately achieve the Holy Grail, a CURE.
A previous HIV population had quite possibly the purest reason for fighting… a will to live. Today however, there is seemingly a lazy attitude among a younger HIV-community that directly translates into passivity and acceptance of the status-quo. Where is the fight?
Politicians will keep chiseling away at HIV/AIDS funding and programs until there is nothing! Twenty-five years ago, activists and AIDS Service Organizations would raise hell to stop this. Unfortunately many AIDS Service Organizations have lost their sense of direction and consequently no longer serve the populations that they were once determined to help. Those organizations which still have an interest in serving those living HIV are so afraid of advocating for specific issues lest their funding get cut.
We cannot depend on AIDS Service Organizations to place pressure on politicians on issues such as CURE Research, HIV/AIDS program funding cuts or issues such as HIV-criminalization. It is going to patients who are currently passive and lethargic to awaken from their dazed, lackadaisical-slumber and fight for their lives. It you have ever heard me speak I always say the same thing… politicians do not change things out of the kindness of their hearts. They change because people place pressure on them and they do it out of self-preservation.