If there have not been enough wake-up calls over the last year, the recent government shutdown by President Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate, using Dreamers and CHIP recipients as pawns, should be enough to alarm all Americans. The consequences of this political gamesmanship to reward the wealthiest of Americans at the expense of the rest of us is dangerous and has long-term consequences.
In the HIV space, for example, when the government shuts down, the CDC shuts down; NAIAD shuts down; HRSA shuts down; HUD shuts down. All of the programs that people living with HIV and AIDS or at risk of HIV depend on are not available during that period of time. Even when the government starts up again, the time lost during the shutdown creates a ripple effect that impacts the government’s ability to respond to those needs for a while.
This weekend, millions of people around the globe were in the streets as a part of multiple Women’s Marches. In her speech on Saturday, Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood, reminded us of the intersectionality of all these issues. Whether the Dreamers, CHIP recipients, reproductive health issues, HIV and AIDS, health care in general, LGBTQ issues, sexual assault against women, or the increased violence against Muslims, immigrants and people of color, especially Black Americans—all of these are inextricably connected.
Arguably, civic engagement has never been more important than during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. There’s a role for each of us to play and each of us must play our role. There are places for you to connect on a local, state or national level. If there’s nothing going on in your neighborhood or in your town, that is a clarion call to you to start something. That said, there are thousands of small organizations and networks that are trying to protect our communities against the assault we are under. If you weren’t able to attend the Women’s March this weekend, make sure you tap into the next rally in your city or town. Call your Senator and Congressperson to tell them to stand up and vote for the Dreamers and CHIP recipients as well as to oppose the cynical attacks led by the President and the Republican-controlled Congress.
At the very, very minimum—and it is the minimum!—we must all be registered to vote and we need to make sure that all of our friends and colleagues are registered to vote; then we need to actually vote. The funny thing about Democracy is that we always end up with the government that we deserve. We also have the power to make sure we end up with the government we want! Every movement needs three things: your work, your wealth and your wisdom. Now’s the time for each of us to contribute whatever we can, wherever we can.
On Friday, in commemoration of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7, 2018), the University of Southern California—Black Alumni Association and Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism—is partnering with the Black AIDS Institute and Full Frequency Media to host a screening and discussion of the film 90 Days. Written by Nathan Hale Williams and co-directed by Jennia Fredrique Aponte and Nathan Williams, 90 Days is a riveting story of love, integrity and compassion, that explores a beautiful young couple’s journey through the challenges of HIV disclosure, stigma, treatment, prevention, and PrEP. The film is entertaining, authentic and a visual masterpiece. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I encourage you to join us.
In this issue we report on a Black AIDS Institute Brown Bag Luncheon Webinar on the fight against hepatitis in Black communities. The gains we are making in HIV/AIDS are not translating to hepatitis C, so it’s time for us to redouble our efforts. Our friends at HIV.gov bring us up to speed on HUD’s announcement prior to the shutdown that they would allot $37 million in grants through HOPWA to assist more than 4,000 low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families each year, over the next three years.
The Trump administration’s recent decision to allow states to implement a work requirement for adult Medicaid recipients has sparked widespread criticism. Our friends at Kaiser Health News report on that story as well as the effort by medical professionals from the South Side of Chicago to reduce that area’s infant mortality by trying tactics they’re learning from our neighbors in Cuba’s public-health ministry. Finally, we close with more information about the film
Yours in the struggle,