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.
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.
The Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program (CHIP), which operates under the umbrella of the nonprofit Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, has been the sole provider of specialized care for infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women with HIV infection in the Rocky Mountain region since its inception 24 years ago.
Some praise the Obama administration for laying out a comprehensive plan and bumping up domestic funding to confront the epidemic, while others yearn For the Bush days because of the global initiatives the Republican president started despite his reputation for anti-gay policies. ¶ Jim Driscoll, a gay Nevada-based HIV/AIDS activist who served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Bush administration, is among those who believe Bush did more to stop the epidemic.