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Action = Life
2004: 68 Million Reasons to Remember Them With Your Vote

By Jeff Graham

January/February 2004

Jeff Graham

To date, some 22 million people have died of AIDS with an additional 46 million people estimated to be living with HIV around the world. I remember the outrage felt by the community back in 1990 when the number of AIDS deaths reached 100,000 in the United States. As the global number continues to march towards 100 million, I find myself wondering if there is still any sense of urgency and outrage left in our country’s attitude towards HIV/AIDS.

The coming year promises to be a key year in the future of the fight against AIDS. Although signs indicate that the economy is beginning to grow again, there remain record numbers of unemployed, uninsured and homeless in our country. Three years of a flagging economy and national spending priorities focused on security and war rather than healthcare and research have already begun to erode the gains the AIDS community experienced throughout the 1990s. Many people who benefited from early access to protease inhibitors and combination therapy are now finding themselves anxiously waiting for new medications to be released as their options begin to dwindle. Many more find themselves on waiting lists for medications, medical appointments and support services. Perhaps most disturbing of all, HIV infection rates are beginning to climb at levels not seen for a decade.

This is the backdrop for the upcoming election cycle. It has been a long time since HIV could be considered a partisan political issue; everyone has an opinion on how best to fight infections and keep people healthy. This new reality exemplifies the power that can be enjoyed when a community of concerned citizens speaks with a united voice. However, not every proposal is a good one, and there remain some deep ideological divisions regarding how best to move the fight against AIDS into the future.

As someone who is intimately aware of the range of issues facing people living with HIV, your opinion must be heard and respected. Registering to vote, knowing the issues and effectively expressing your opinions are vital to regaining the momentum the AIDS community seems to have lost over the past few years. Make the New Year a time of recommitting yourself to the fight for your health, for the lives of people just like you from around the world, and for the memories of our loved ones whose earlier struggles and successes serve as an example for us all.


Resolutions for a New Year

  1. If you are not already registered to vote, do it today! You may visit our web site after January 5 for assistance in getting registered. You must be registered by February 2 to qualify to vote in the March 2 Presidential Primary.

  2. Commit to getting others registered to vote. Nothing works like peer pressure!

  3. Know where the presidential candidates stand on the issue of HIV/AIDS. See the accompanying article on AIDSVote.org for information on where the candidates stand.

  4. Volunteer for a candidate. There is no better way to show that you support a candidate, and it's an excellent way for both candidates and the public at large to see the dedication of people concerned about HIV. Education is still the key to positive change.

  5. Vote in the primary! Everyone complains about the lack of good candidates in the general election, yet so many people ignore the primaries. Primary elections are where the field of candidates are narrowed. Although your candidate may not win, how your candidate does in the primary could influence the platform and policies adopted by the candidates in the general election and by the new administration.

  6. Don’t forget the state issues. The start of the year is also the start of the Georgia legislative session. If you are concerned about ADAP, HIV prevention, funding for Medicaid or would like to see the creation of the AIDS Awareness license plate, you must be active in the upcoming legislative session. Our ADAP lobby training will take place on Sunday, February 8, and our AIDS Awareness Day will be on March 22.

  7. Visit the new Advocacy Resource Center on our web site: www.aidssurvivalproject.org. Starting in January, we will have information on voting, a guide to the presidential candidates, resources to track health care legislation and links to connect you with your elected officials -- everything you need to be an effective advocate and an informed voter.




This article was provided by AIDS Survival Project. It is a part of the publication Survival News. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
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