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Silence Equals Death!

Summer 2011

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Why is hardly anyone speaking up and demanding more money for cure research? If those leaders and institutions who profess to act on our behalf and even say they exist for our best health interests continue to fail to address the problem, we need to tell them to get their heads out of the sand and shout, "Silence = Death!"

Fortunately, there is one national group that is focused solely on trumpeting the call for a cure: AIDS Policy Project (aidspolicyproject.org and Facebook.com/AIDSPolicyProject). It is a group of AIDS activists, scientists, doctors and people like you and me, and has a wide range of supporters, including researchers, physicians, as well as playwright and ACT-UP founder Larry Kramer.

At this moment, they are our only hope to get the message out and achieve radical change. Some of APP's present projects:

  • To demand that NIH increase its HIV cure research allotment from the present 3% to 12%;
  • A new national campaign to support APP as the only organization devoted to advocating cure research and finding the necessary funding (both private and government); and
  • Lobbying our congresspersons. There is a letter on their Web site for you to send to the NIH Director in support of increased funding.

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Their Web site also has a simply written "Fact Sheet on AIDS Cure Research." And join APP! There is no charge. You can also get more info by contacting:

AIDS Policy Project
5120 Walton Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19143
Telephone: 215.939.7852

While I consider APP the only hope at the present, I believe we need to recognize and deal with the following huge obstacles to overcome and bolster APP's campaign for a cure:

Problem number 1: Scientists lack adequate funding to perform the research! The NIH gives 97% of its money allocated to HIV research for treatment research and only 3% for cure research. While treatment research is still important, it makes more sense to allocate a larger percentage to cure research, now that the possibility of a cure is much closer than realized. In addition to saving millions of lives, the national debt could be reduced by $50 billion -- a good chunk of the country's budget crises.

Problem number 2: To my best knowledge, only four pharmaceutical companies in the US are investing in cure research. I suggest that the drug companies lack the incentive to find a cure when their corporate revenue will continue to boom by maintaining us on the treatment treadmill. However, the company that invests in the science and discovers the cure will become the premier pharmaceutical company of the world, make a lot of money for their shareholders and attract brilliant scientists.

Problem number 3: Us. We are uninformed. I hope this article will help us all become better informed and participate in whatever way you can in advocacy for a cure.

Problem number 4: HIV/AIDS-focused organizations and others that have strong programs and clinics servicing the HIV/AIDS community in the LA area. There seems to be no leadership or vision in the LA area advocating for a cure. Our community leaders seem to be in a trance; their main -- if not only -- world view is treatment meds. Simply by their stating that NIH should allocate more than a measly 3% of all its HIV research funds to cure research would be a good start. These great institutions of social services should be advocating and coordinating advocacy for a cure, such as holding town hall meetings on the latest developments on a cure. APP knows scientists and doctors here who, in a heartbeat, would respond, participate, and educate. The HIV/AIDS organizations should be organizing people and the community to meet with our congressional representatives. What about a town hall meeting to organize the grass roots, like ACT-UP did, this time around for a cure? Are they really representing us effectively and humanely if these well-intentioned organizations still lack the vision to advocate for a cure at a time when not only the lives of people with HIV/AIDS, but the science itself, cries out for it?

For further info/discussion, please contact me at: gerashlaw@aol.com.

Gerald Gerash, early Gay Liberation activist, is in the process of forming Committee for A CURE. Contact Gerald at GerashLaw@aol.com for more information.

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This article was provided by Being Alive. Visit Being Alive's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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