Typically in September, and sometimes October, we are in the middle of the appropriations battle, working hard to ensure that Congress approves the highest possible funding for HIV/AIDS programs. That work is much more difficult right now. Clearly, the political climate has changed dramatically in Washington, with strong bipartisan attention very appropriately focused on the response to the attacks.
However, we all know that the needs of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS have not changed. Congress will still vote on a funding bill that will have a strong impact on care, treatment, research, housing, and prevention. We, as AIDS advocates, must find a way to encourage our elected representatives to remember those needs when proposing funding for the upcoming Fiscal Year.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks, Project Inform, along with many other advocates, put on hold our efforts to organize individuals to contact their representatives on HIV/AIDS issues until we thought they would be both effective and appropriate. After receiving feedback from some Congressional staff, we feel that it is important and appropriate to move ahead.
We encourage you to be a part of this action by taking a few minutes to call your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators and urge them to support the highest possible funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Because final decisions will be made soon, phone calls are recommended over letters. You might also find it to be a good time to thank them for coming together in such a strong bipartisan manner to deal with the very difficult business of responding to the attacks and to support those who lost so much on September 11.
You may want to combine all of these messages in your phone call, or you might want to just talk about HIV/AIDS funding. We are including some suggested language to help you craft your message. However, the most important thing is to let your representatives know that we need their leadership to address the HIV/AIDS crisis, and how their actions affect you. The most appropriate message you can deliver is that people living with HIV/AIDS still need Congress' help and leadership.
Sample Phone Message
"I am calling to thank Representative/Senator__________ for his/her leadership and hard work responding to the terrorist attacks on September 11. We are all deeply saddened by the loss so many have suffered.
I am also calling as a person greatly affected by HIV/AIDS. I hope that Representative/Senator____________ will also do everything in his/her own power to ensure the highest possible increases for all domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs. We need the continued support and leadership of Congress to help fight this epidemic."
Contact information: You can reach your U.S. Representative and Senators through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.