This week was an example of having one experience that was highly inspiring and having another experience that was very depressing. Last Thursday, 17 people, including 14 children, were murdered in yet another mass shooting at a high school. It’s gotten to the point where there’s no need to run new footage or new narrative. It is the same story and, tragically, the response is the same.
The Republicans and NRA go to the same old playbook: “We feel your pain, but now is not the time to talk about gun control; now is the time to mourn our loss.” In actuality, if you feel our pain, now is exactly the time to talk about gun control because it isn’t just the best way, it is the only way, to mourn the loss of these lives—and to try to do something about it!
It’s like if our country is a schoolyard with a bully, and the bully beats us up or threatens everyone at recess, and everybody knows who the bully is and what the bully does and the havoc he wreaks, yet no one does anything about it. Fortunately, this time, the children have decided that enough is enough and are taking action and are calling B.S. on the B.S. I hope that the rest of us have the courage to follow their lead.
To temporarily escape the tragedy of Parkland, on Friday the staff at the BAI went to see the new Marvel film “Black Panther”. It was an experience that was good for our soul. Imagine if Black people were never colonized. Imagine if we had the resources and support to live up to our potential. Both the story and the making of the film remind us of how powerful we can be when we come together and the things that we can accomplish—and pushes us to find the superhero in each of us.
In this issue, we write about the opening of a new prevention clinic in Los Angeles that discredits the lie that Black people are not interested in PrEP or are resistant to taking PrEP. In the first 5 hours of this new clinic that is created by Black people and focuses on Black people, we linked 6 people to PrEP, we identified 3 positives and either linked them to care or followed up with them, and we reconnected people who had previously fallen out of care, to care. We’re not Wakanda by any stretch of the imagination, but now that we know what Wakanda looks like, we know what to aspire to.
Also in this issue, in a joint project with the Black AIDS Institute, Planned Parenthood Federation of America launched new educational videos on PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). We encourage you to check them out. HIV activist and social-media expert Jamal Refuge, an online community manager at JSI, wrote about his experience of going on PrEP, as well as lessons he’s learned about PrEP, both from his personal experience and his work in HIV/AIDS.
On NBHAAD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided us with an update on HIV in Black communities. Rich Wolitski, director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, reports on the trends in HIV diagnoses among Black women and Black gay and bisexual men, as well as on PrEP uptake and viral suppression and racial disparities in HIV care in Black communities.
Finally, despite the best efforts of the Trump administration and Republican Congress, the marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, remains far more stable than almost anyone expected. Our friends at Kaiser Health News report.
Yours in the struggle,