Where Would We Be Without AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)?
By Aaron Laxton
March 4, 2014
This is a very loaded question and one that is without doubt going to invoke debate and conversation. For all of the negative things that people say and read about AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) there is one simple reality: At least they are doing something. I already can hear people saying, "All they do is create stigma, shame and enemies and that is not what we need." Maybe so, but at least they are doing something.
It is true that AHF is the largest AIDS service organization and it battles with the same internal struggles that any other large organization deals with. I make no apologies that in the past I have been critical of AHF as well as with Michael Weinstein directly. I mean you have never truly lived until you debate Michael one-on-one at the Improv regarding PrEP (which is shown to be 99% effective in reducing HIV infection when taken as directed). That is the nature of activism and advocacy. We are all passionate about ensuring that those living with HIV and AIDS receive the care that they need to remain healthy, detecting new HIV infections through testing, as well as preventing new infections. How we achieve those things, however, is where there are different philosophies.
A world without AHF might look like a perfect world to some, but who would stand in the place of Michael and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation? I have noticed that it is often the people who are doing the least who are critiquing the most.
While AHF is not perfect, no organization or movement ever is. For all the things that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation isn't, there are a few things that it is. For the many patients, close to 250,000 worldwide, AHF is a healthcare provider. It is an advocacy and lobbying machine. Regardless of the message, it is an organization getting HIV/AIDS into the mainstream media. Yes, there is room for change and improvement but the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Where would we be without the AIDS Healthcare Foundation? Only you can answer that.
My HIV Journey
I am simply a guy who on June 6, 2011, received the news that over 33 million people have received: I am HIV positive. I decided in that split moment to record the journey that I was embarking on so that I might help others as they receive that news.
I am not a doctor and I do not endorse any agenda other than simply living a healthy life. I am an activist and advocate and simply want to make the world a better place. I hold a degree in sociology and psychology. I am a product of the Missouri Foster System and this is one of my main passions, second only to the work I do with HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention.
I embrace a sex-positive model. People are going to have sex; it is a natural part of who we are. However we need to make sure that it is safe. I can be found on weekends throughout St. Louis, Missouri, passing out condoms and safe-sex kits.
I am now an M.S.W. student at Saint Louis University's College of Public Health and Social Justice and the School of Social Work.
Whether in St. Louis, D.C. or around the nation, I always jump at the chance to help change not only policies to better serve those that need help but to also change the landscape of the society that we live in.
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