Paradox in HIV/AIDS Trends


As the 4th decade of the HIV/AIDS pandemic rolls out, Real Housewives are espousing safer sex as gay men base condom use on business paradigms of risk analysis; meanwhile another 56,000 Americans will test HIV + but the celebrity who publically tests on National HIV Testing Day will keep testing negative. We are starting to see HIV + characters on TV, in film and on stage. Maybe Glee will welcome a proud HIV + kid whose only problem is range. Wouldn’t that be precious?

In twenty ten, the White House Office of HIV/AIDS Policy will lay out new strategies regarding risk reduction, access to care and treatment and public education while counterparts in the West Wing will wrangle with Congress over the crumbs of healthcare reform; foreign HIV+ visitors will flock to the US to make up for years they were banned; syringe exchange, a powerful evidence based method of HIV prevention, will become the focus of right wing opponents who hate anything that will save drug users. Been there done that.

Just when we thought it was kosher to wear white after Labor Day, the rules are about to change. Homelessness is a major structural driver of the HIV epidemic, not just stigma or risky behavior; Hepatitis C is as devastating as HIV – it lives outside the body for 48 hours and you can get it from sharing if there is blood exchange. True Blood beware; HIV research will focus on gene therapy, microbicides and single dosing drugs. Can we have an HIV vaccine app?

I sometimes feel like Anna Wintour when I look around the nation and try to make sense out of all the tropical and zebra print in front of me. There are a record number of PLWHAs in the nation and a record demand for services BUT community based HIV/AIDS organizations are closing down as funding deficits grow; AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in Southern states like Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama are turning people away for lack of funds; the nation’s few HIV/AIDS foundations will see increased demand for grants without growth in their portfolios; AIDS will remain the #1 killer of black women ages 19 – 27 while the religious right fights for abstinence based HIV prevention education; I wonder what Anna would do with that?

Photo Credit: acon online

About The Author

Ms. Quattrochi is the Chief Executive Officer of Bailey House, an award winning community based organization that since 1983 pioneered permanent supportive housing for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Quattrochi, an advocate committed to housing as a human right, has worked for the rights of low income men and women living with HIV/AIDS and the communities that serve them to have access to housing, healthcare and HIV prevention. She serves on numerous national and local boards and is playing a key role in the development of national AIDS policy under the Obama administration as a member of the policy consortium briefing the President and his staff on issues critical to the epidemic here and globally.

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