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Getting to Zero: What Stands in the Way?

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Michelle Lopez

Michelle Lopez

Brooklyn, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1991

We are struggling to really address the issues surrounding stigma and discrimination. We as a people need to accept people for who they are, and be nonjudgmental, and not use someone's status to define who they are. We should be able to allow people to be who they are, and embrace people for who they are. We are still very far away from zero, because we are not doing those things. We are still very far away from getting to zero new infections. We have to be able to allow the gay man to be who he is; we have to be able to allow the gay youth to be who they are; we have to be able to allow a person who is an immigrant, because that's the population that I identify with, I'm an immigrant, and I've been living in the U.S. for the last 29 years. Eventually, I do want to go back to my island in the Caribbean, Trinidad. The Caribbean is at least 15 to 20 years behind the progress we have made today in the United States as far as HIV. So, globally, if we want to impact the stop of this disease, we have to be able to address these social issues, and stop sweeping these issues under the rug, because it's uncomfortable for some people to talk about it. We are way far away, and until we start addressing those things in a realistic manner, we are zero. We are zero on stopping these new infections.




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Reader Comments:

Comment by: W. JAMES PERIGNY (FT. LAUDERDALE, FL) Tue., Dec. 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm EST
After working in the trenches of HIV trying to help people, I sincerely believe:
1. Most grants go to Treatment not enough go to prevention...we are getting too many new infections and we will never stamp out Aids at the current rates of infection.
2. When Grant decisions are made, no one actually asks "how much funding do you already receive". Keep as many Agencies funded as possible that ACTUALLY WORK WITH HIV CLIENTS.
3. Too many grants are gobbled up by the large agencies that have large staff and payroll overhead and can produce Grant Writers written pretty paperwork. THE EMPHASIS SHOULD NOT BE IN THE WRITTEN PAPER, BUT RATHER, WHAT THE AGENCY HAS ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED WITH THE FUNDING THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED.
4. Not many grants have been given for Peer or Support groups which keep Positives engaged in adherrence and the newest meds or programs or where to actually go for help.
5. The government should create an AIDS Research Center (much like the Atom Bomb research center of the 1940's) and not duplicate research dollars. HIRE the best research scientists.
6. Hold the cost of meds down by blocking advertisements and RYAN WHITE MEDS purchased on the State level, not the county level...the prices would be cheaper. The Pharmas are already making billions on managing health...where is their incentive to find a vaccine or cure???
7. HIGH IMPACT PREVENTION is only as good as its data. For instance, if you mostly test in Black areas, then the data will show huge increase in Black populations and ignore Hispanics or other groups.
8. EVERYONE should be tested. The Federal Government should force the AMA to have HIV Testing part of annual physical exams
9. More grant dollars should be given for Social Marketing and radio ads stressing PREVENTION. The messages need to be sent over and over.
10. More grant dollars should be given to erase HIV Stigma. Fear currently rules.
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