A Tale of Two Americas
It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.
Depending on where you live, HIV could be nearly defeated, or it could be raging through your community. As each year passes, the separation grows wider and wider.
This week's news was a perfect encapsulation of our divided country and the state of HIV in America
Every December 1st, we remember the lives lost to HIV/AIDS and recognize the work done to help infected persons to live long, healthy lives.
Sex is taboo. Add HIV to the mix, don't get me started! Combating HIV has required a diverse patchwork of Community Based Organizations to understand and connect with at risk populations.
In some communities, HIV is on its back foot. It's inspring to see our public health departments and community organizations coming together to defeat this virus.
Cities like NYC, SF, and Philly have developed and deployed successful HIV treatment and prevention models. In fact, New York City is 2 years ahead of schedule in reaching the UN's 90-90-90 plan for ending the epidemic.
The AIDS Crisis has disproportionately affected gender and sexual minorities. Yet, on Sunday the President and his administration omitted GSMs from their statement on AIDS.
This isn't new or shocking, but I highlight this to draw contrast to the cities that are effectively Ending the Epidemic. We must create inclusive programs, otherwise, we're just flushing money down the toilet.
The consequence of not talking frankly about HIV is unabated outbreaks. We've seen public health and testing budgets slashed, especially in rural America, leaving them incapable of dealing with outbreaks.
We've watched the opiod epidemic decimate our rural communities. These battered communities are coming to learn that HIV isn't a gay disease–that their children are infected–and they have none of the resources NYC or SF have.
We need better access and better prevention—full stop—and it will be a decades long process to help these isolated communities recover from the epidemic. But what can we do not?
In the age of Instagram, we can all start to contribute to change today by publicly advocating for inclusion and care. Dwayne Wade set the bar this weekend by shutting down critics of his son's fierce Thanksgiving look.
Healthcare in America is about access. Barriers to access can take many forms, from financial, to logistical, to social.
Sexual health and HIV are some of the scariest things to talk about with healthcare providers, insurers, and our partners. That makes being sexually well is a never ending process of overcoming access barriers.
On this Giving Tuesday, consider donating to a Community Based Organization that's expanding sexual health access in your community!
In NYC, we recommend Housing Works.