Across the board, the Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB)’s Colorado-based beneficiary organizations are expressing their concern over the new political climate. Although President Trump has not made any statements specifically addressing HIV/AIDS-related policy, he has announced his desire to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and cut Medicaid spending. This would have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of many people living with HIV, as more than half of all adults with HIV in the United States are covered by Medicaid. As the providers at Western Colorado Specialty Care Clinic in Grand Junction stated, “Any changes to Medicaid expansion will severely impact our patient population.”
Y is approximately 35 years old. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa. At the age of about 18, her family arranged a marriage for her. Y said she felt "neither happy or sad about it; that’s just the way things were done." She says her marriage was "difficult," and her husband was unkind. After the birth of two sons, she and her husband separated. But after being apart for some time (during that period she briefly went to Sudan to look for a "better life"--which she never found....), they reconciled. However, when she became pregnant for the third time, he left her again. She began to hear "rumors from friends and neighbors" that he had been unfaithful to her, and was "sick."
As the Trump era begins, only one thing seems to be clear—anything could happen. And as far as HIV/AIDS goes, experts and advocates are not optimistic. Though the President has not, as of this printing, made any clear statements regarding his stance on AIDS and funding for the disease, the trend towards the cutting of public health funding and the elimination of the Affordable Care Act is almost certain to have a negative impact on the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States. Moreover, the recently issued executive order impacting international aid organizations pertaining to abortion counseling will likely have a detrimental effect on international AIDS funding coming from the U.S.; HIV prevention is often tied to family planning efforts.
The 2016 Telluride AIDS Benefit Gala Fashion Show fundraiser was just ending when Manzini Youth Care (MYC) asked for a special contribution for its Community Clinic in Manzini. Our special ask for was funding for a CD4 Count Machine. An accurate CD4 count in HIV/AIDS patients provides valuable feedback indicating whether antiviral treatments are effective in a given patient. For example, a CD4 count below 350 indicates that the medicines are not working effectively enough to prevent patients from acquiring opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Likewise, a CD4 count above 350 reassures the patient that the medicines are indeed effective and patients can confidently continue on with the antiviral dosages prescribed.
AIDS might seem like a distant memory in the wake of a tumultuous 16 month-long election cycle. The soon-to-be Trump presidency is providing an unnerving picture for the future of AIDS related issues. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was greatly expanded and many prerequisites were dropped to make access to care easier for almost 45% of HIV positive people. Many of these improvements are likely to be cut or trimmed in the new administration. This will make other funding such as that provided by the Telluride AIDS Benefit more relevant than ever.
The Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) gave away $148,000 to seven AIDS treatment and prevention groups in Colorado and Africa last week, marking an incredibly successful year for the benefit. 100% of funds raised during TAB’s week of events are being given directly to AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) in Colorado and Africa this year.
In 2006, Marla Hodes traveled to Ethiopia to visit her brother-in-law, the renowned American doctor Dr. Rick Hodes, who has long performed life-changing medical procedures in the African country.
It all started with a box containing 1,000 condoms. Once in Kathleen Morgan’s hands, the noble function of the humble condom became wearable art. Each year those wondrous rubber raiments have fluttered down the runway. They’ve fetched thousands of dollars during the post-fashion show auctions.
According to Advocates for Youth, “stigma against people with HIV directly contributes to the epidemic where HIV-positive people or people at risk of HIV are reluctant or afraid to seek treatment and testing. Some young people report being afraid to get an HIV test because health care workers accuse them of being promiscuous.
Jeff Basinger, the director of regional programs at Western Colorado Aids Project (WestCAP), says needle exchange programs are often misunderstood and research proves the programs are effective in stopping the spread of disease. “With new legislation and subsequent implementation in various communities, these programs have been a step in the right direction in helping stop the spread of HIV,” Basinger says.