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HIV is not on furlough

Phil Wilson

Phil Wilson

HIV is not on furlough

Today (Oct. 8, 2013) is day seven of the government shutdown. The NIH, CDC, and HRSA may be closed, but I can tell you one thing, HIV is not on furlough. According to data from UNAIDS, there have been nearly 38,000 new HIV infections and about 26,300 AIDS-related deaths around the world since Congress shut down the government on Oct. 1 at midnight and our nation effectively stopped funding efforts to end the pandemic domestically and around the world.

This is ridiculous! The number 1 job for elected officials is to keep the government running. If they fail at that, nothing else matters. I should stop right here and just say, call your member of Congress and every member of Congress that you can get in touch with and tell them, “Do your f**king job! Reopen the government!”

We want to see the end of the AIDS epidemic, but playing chicken and seeing who will get blamed for the shutdown isn’t going to get us there. We cannot end the AIDS epidemic without the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. No more delays, no more political football—open the government now!

We have also been talking about achieving an AIDS-free generation, but we need to add an “unless” to qualify our statements. One of the biggest “unlesses” we need to consider is: unless a dysfunctional Congress continues to be dysfunctional. People who are interested in America’s health cannot allow members of Congress to hold it hostage.

One thing I always say about this thing called democracy is that, whether we love our government or hate it, our system guarantees that we get the government we deserve. In that way it is unfailing. The question is: Do we get the government we want? Getting to a yes answer requires effort. If we want 30 mil-lion new Americans, including many PLWHA who currently don’t have health insurance to have health insurance, we need to act and we need to act now! Call Congress! If we want to protect people with preexisting conditions from being denied health coverage, we need to act and we need to act now! Email Congress! If we believe that annual and lifetime caps on health insurance coverage are wrong, we need to act and we need to act now! Write letters to Congress.

In this issue we provide you with information to make navigating the health insurance marketplace much easier. We have added Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Insurance Subsidy Calculator to our website. Just plug in your zip code, income, family size, age and tobacco usage and you will get a rough estimate of how the Affordable Care Act might impact you financially. We run Kaiser Health News’s “Very Quick Guide” to the health-insurance ex-changes as well as a story on how to prepare to purchase health insurance.

We continue our series profiling the Fellows of the African American HIV University’s Science & Treatment College with a profile of Baltimore’s Jamal Hailey. Dr. Ron Valdiserri updates us on HHS’s report on progress made in 2012 implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. And we are heartbroken to inform you about the passing of Lindsay Wright-El, a Detroit community activist whose life was dedicated to ensuring that folks with addictions and and HIV/AIDS received quality services. Lindsay was a 2011 Fellow of the Institute’s African American HIV University (AAHU) Community Mobilization College. We will miss his contribution greatly.

Yours in the struggle,


P.S.: Call, write, or email Congress now!


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