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Help AIDS United to "Make It Grow"

By Khafre Abif

September 12, 2011

More than 50 percent of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States do not have consistent access to care, and the people most affected are communities of color and those in extreme poverty. The AIDS United movement has set a course to change that. I recently became aware of AIDS United and its efforts to develop commitments from corporations, foundations, and individuals to invest their resources to connect people living with HIV/AIDS who need high-quality supportive services and health care.

Just a little more than two weeks ago this nation celebrated the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech, which he deliver to hundreds of thousands on the Washington Mall. As I listened to several news reports, commentators and programs I was left with a void. At no time during any of the programs I watched or listened to did anyone ask this question: "What would Dr. King say about this county and its greed and inability to support AIDS funding?"

It is my belief that Dr. King would be calling us all -- including this nation's leaders in Washington -- to task for the ongoing need for public and private organizations to support AIDS funding, especially on the community level.

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men -- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream," August 28, 1963

I understand insurance companies want to make a profit, but premiums have risen 90% between 2000 and 2008, while the cost of medicine rose only 39%. I have a preexisting condition, and I worry if I will be carried by new employers' insurance or that I won't be able to afford the premiums. I am not alone in my anxiety. My very existence relies on weather or not my prescriptions will be filled next month. You see, I have been taking medication since 1998 and if I stop now the possible outcomes are deadly.

Dr. King would be rallying a grassroots effort and urging all of you to push in any additional way to show your support in this 30th year of the AIDS epidemic our country. I am not Dr. King but I share his spirit to rally people from community to community in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience ... But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice." - - Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery, Alabama, December 5, 1955

AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) and other HIV/AIDS programs across the country are being reduced, threatened to be eliminated, and states are looking at changing eligibility to qualify for these programs. Never before has this situation been as dire as it is now. As of September 1, nearly 10,000 people are being on waiting lists to receive lifesaving medications; I am one of 1,715 in the State of Georgia. Yes I am worried access to care and medicine will be cut off completely.

"I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

The time for action is right now regardless of whether you are infected, or affected, or if you are a person with a compassionate heart; your voice and your vote is needed. It is time to call and write your public officials, particularly the Senators who were elected by the people.

"I have come to see more and more that one of the most decisive steps that the Negro can take is that little walk to the voting booth. That is an important step. We've got to gain the ballot, and through that gain, political power." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., NAACP Emancipation Day Rally, January 1, 1957

I believe that access to lifesaving medication is a Human Right! Inaction AND silence = death; and AIDS medication, care and treatment =LIFE.

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.

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See Also
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Freedom Rider

Khafre Piper

Khafre Abif

Khafre K. Abif, AIDS activist, has been thriving with HIV for more than 20 years and is a father of two teenage boys. Khafre is the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom. Khafre is one of five men in the inaugural class of The HEALTH (Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV) Seminar Program developed by My Brother's Keeper, Inc. He has also served as the Community Co-Chair for the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. As a librarian in his first career, Khafre was the first recipient of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)'s Dr. John C. Tyson Emerging Leader Award. Forthcoming books include Raising Kazembe and Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems and Affirmation for People Living with HIV/AIDS.

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