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What Were 2011's Biggest Setbacks? What Are Your Hopes for 2012?

December 1, 2011

What Were 2011's Biggest Setbacks? What Are Your Hopes for 2012?

2011 was marked by epic highs and devastating lows, thoughtful commemorations and persistent disappointments. With the national HIV/AIDS strategy and health care reform gaining momentum, an uncertain election year on the horizon, and the hotly anticipated return of the attention-grabbing and costly International AIDS Conference to U.S. soil, 2012 promises more of the same. As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, read on and find out which events and circumstances are on the minds of HIV/AIDS community members all over the U.S.

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Venessa Laurel

Venessa Laurel, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, San Francisco, Calif.

The biggest disappointment -- and I'm sure everyone's been talking about this -- is funding. Funding. Where are we going to get the money to do the work that we do? There's just so much need and so much demand, and where do we go from there, when we're not getting help anywhere else? Everyone's trying to talk about diversifying their funding source, and all that stuff. But what do you do when the economy is bad?

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Felipe Hernandez

Felipe Hernandez, HIV Advocate, Tucson, Ariz.

In the state of Arizona, we've been attacked with immigration laws and also how sex education is approached. I believe that's taking two steps back, 20 years back in history. All the advances we've done on the global level, now in Arizona, it's been taken back. That's the biggest disappointment I have. This is probably going to sound political, but I believe we need to be more liberal if we want to be better. That's just my personal opinion. I think the conservative movement is taking us back.

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Felipe Hernandez

Mary Elizabeth Marr, AIDS Action Coalition, Huntsville, Ala.

My biggest disappointment was that Hillary Clinton spoke this week, and didn't ever mention domestic AIDS once. That was almost a slap in the face.

In 2012, I'm hoping that we can continue to push for what we need to take care of our clients in our country.

Arick Buckles

Arick Buckles, Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy, Chicago, Ill.

I would have to say that the biggest disappointment for me would be seeing people continue to die as a result of the stigma. In my work I'm still encountering individuals who are afraid to receive treatment and/or care as a result of HIV stigma. That's a huge disappointment. We're 30 years into this epidemic and we're still seeing people that are bound by stigmas and fears. That's actually why we developed the Anti-Stigma Campaign. It's geared to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV, to encourage conversation about HIV and to let folks know that it's OK.

I'm really excited to see how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy will unfold in 2012, as it's fully implemented in communities. I would like to see how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy will go about addressing HIV stigma.

Mondo Guerra

Mondo Guerra, Project Runway Season 8, Denver, Colo.; Diagnosed in 2001

Besides losing Project Runway? For me, personally, there hasn't been a disappointment in terms of HIV/AIDS. I revealed on the show that I had been HIV positive for the past 10 years, and in the past year everything has been really positive. Everything is looking forward for me. And I'm just excited to keep moving on.

What am I looking forward to in 2012? Really learning about myself, and really conquering the disease, and being as healthy and happy as I can be.

Cora Giddens

Cora Giddens, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

I think 2012 will be better than the past, because of health care reform and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. I also think we're trying to put HIV/AIDS back out there in the focus. I think the media is reaching out a bit better. They were doing great in the beginning, then they slacked off. But I think that's because we became apathetic. I think that we're becoming more vocal. We're getting a better voice again. And I see things getting better. I do. But I think it's still going to be a fight. We still need to do some marches. We still need to do some chants. We still need to lock arms, and fight.

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Ernesto Dominguez

Ernesto Dominguez, Cascade AIDS Project, Portland, Ore.

The thing I think I'm saddest about is just hearing how some of the national funding is going away, and how, specifically, community-based organizations are losing a lot of that really important funding. So even though HIV numbers are kind of staying steady as far as how many people are being infected every year, the funding that we're getting is being reduced drastically. So how can we prevent more infections and do more of the work that we're doing with less funding? I guess some of it is just trying to be creative. But in some ways, it sounds impossible. How can we measure the value of this work when the government doesn't see this as a priority?

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Helen Miramontes

Helen Miramontes, Retired Nurse, Las Vegas, N.V.

Considering where we have come from, from my perspective of working in the epidemic since '81, '82, I don't see anything that's happened that's really that big of a disappointment. I am concerned, though, that because of the economic situation we're in, in this country and globally, that there's going to be decreased funding available for treatment and for keeping non-medical support systems in place. It's not a disappointment as of yet, but it certainly is my concern.

What I'm hoping will happen in 2012 is that we'll be able to do what we know needs to be done: get people tested, into treatment, and keep them in treatment.

Phill Wilson

Phill Wilson, Black AIDS Institute, Los Angeles; Diagnosed in 1985

In a year where there's so much good news, and so much promise, and the potential to really make a difference, I think that my biggest disappointment is the fact that we don't have the sense of energy and the sense of urgency that we need, if we're going to be serious about ending the AIDS epidemic.

In 2012, I'm certainly looking forward to building the energy that we need to engage folks, to kind of change the conversation, generate a conversation, kick-start a conversation, so that people, in fact, are embracing the notion of us beginning an endgame. How are we going to end this thing? Thirty years is enough.

Oscar Lopez

Oscar Lopez, Capacity Building Specialist, New York City

I'm disappointed that we're 30 years in, and we're still having the same discussions. Especially that we're seeing all these new numbers amongst young MSM. And how can we expect that to change when we don't talk about the real issues? Again, it's our fault. We're shaming our own people. And we shouldn't do it.

I'm hoping that the International AIDS Conference will open the eyes of a lot of people in our communities, and that the press picks up on it -- the Spanish-language press, as well -- and that at least people start talking about AIDS again. Because it's fallen off the radar, not only in terms of funding streams; it's just not an everyday topic. There are so many other illnesses and causes that are more popular right now.

Regnarian Jenkins

Regnarian Jenkins, Housing Works, East New York, Brooklyn, N.Y.

I think 2012 will probably bring a lot of awareness. I think a lot of people who haven't woken up will wake up. They will finally realize the fact that, now that we actually are in some sort of deficit or crisis, they are going to have to do more than just sit back on the sidelines. It's time to get up and act up, pretty much. I think that's the most important thing. Don't just sit on the sidelines: get up, act up.

Elena Thomas Faulkner

Elena Thomas Faulkner, Denver, Colo.

Both in the case of HIV/AIDS and other issues that are impacted by injustices in our society, our unwillingness to make the resources available to really combat the issues is my biggest disappointment. I'm looking forward to some progress in 2012.

Henry Ocampo

Henry Ocampo, HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Specialist, Fremont, Calif.; Diagnosed in 1995

I think one of my biggest disappointments, especially being someone who is Filipino, was seeing that there's less of a focus on Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. A lot of the HIV funding toward Asians and Pacific Islanders around the country has been decreasing.

I'm looking forward to the International AIDS Conference next year in Washington, D.C., and just hoping to get the opportunity to participate. I think that will be amazing.

Luke Versher

Luke Versher, AIDS Action in Mississippi, Jackson, Miss.; Diagnosed in 1988

Mississippi legislators and the government: those are the biggest disappointment for Mississippi. Because they put very little state money into HIV/AIDS. They do very little to help Mississippians with HIV. And sometimes it is as if the state promotes the stigma, because they jump on ways to criminalization of HIV, instead of ways to prevention, treatment or care. I am looking forward to the International AIDS Conference in 2012. This is the first time it's being held here in the United States in many years.

Marguerite Thorp

Marguerite Thorp, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Boston, Mass.

I think the budget that the House of Representatives passed, particularly reinstating the needle exchange ban, is just appalling: (a) it doesn't belong in a budget bill; but (b) it's terrible policy. And it's really bad news for people with HIV, and people at risk of contracting HIV. The funding levels included in that budget were also really terrible. That was really disappointing to me.

The International AIDS Conference in D.C. is going to be really exciting, and I'm hoping that that will mean some big political action ahead of that. The pressure that that conference supplies will mean that the president and Congress must act in bold ways that they haven't yet, that we haven't seen in the past couple of years.

Alana Bahe

Alana Bahe, Center for Prevention and Wellness, Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana

The biggest disappointment state-wise, for Montana, is that funding has been cut. So we're trying to figure out how we're still going to reach so many people with less money, and be effective.

In 2012 I just really hope that, with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and everything, that we don't end up taking steps back. We need to acknowledge that, and take steps forward so that we don't lose the work of everybody that does try to provide HIV prevention and education.

Jack Mackenroth

Jack Mackenroth, New York City; Diagnosed in 1989

I think the ADAP waiting lists are probably the biggest disappointment for me. In 2012 I'm looking forward to new advances in government and medication.

Ronnie Grace

Ronnie Grace, Community Health Worker, Milwaukee, Wisc.; Diagnosed in 1987

The biggest disappointment this year has probably been the lack of education around stigma. I'm hoping for more programming around eliminating stigma -- I think would be something great to look forward to in 2012.


Paul, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Condoms and Materials Unit; Brooklyn, N.Y. / Barbados

I may look at it from a different view: What do I think the HIV community will bring for 2012? Regardless of the year, I think that really makes more much of a difference. And I think we really need to act as a community in regards to this disease.

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Public Educator

Public Educator, Washington, D.C.

I think we've moved forward in taking steps in research to eradicate the virus. I look forward to, obviously, better medication, more awareness, less stigma or prejudice or judgment. I look forward to people being healthier overall -- mental health, physical health. Despite our economic situation; it really does strengthen the heart, the mind and the soul of people to be resourceful and look at different ways to be better.


Analyst, Washington, D.C.

Finding out that infections are going up amongst young African-American MSM. That's a huge disappointment.

In 2012, I'm looking forward to hearing more about the possibility of treatment as prevention.

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