This morning I watched as six of 12 defenseless ducklings fell into a well, as the mother duck stood her ground and protected the other chicks from making the same mistake. The mother duck's quack became increasingly louder until residents of the apartment complex figured out what had happened, and rescued the baby chicks.
Had the mother's quack not been so loud, and had others who could come to the rescue not been around; she would have lost six of her offspring. The chicks' quacks were faint being about five feet underground, and would have eventually been silenced by their eventual death, without anyone ever knowing. That mother duck knew that inaction AND silence could equal death.
That mother duck and her chicks and the people who came to the rescue are an epitome of the ever-growing ADAP crisis occurring in our country right now. 8,310 humans are defenseless as they go untreated for their HIV/AIDS infection; defenseless because our government is not coming to the rescue to provide lifesaving medications.
Later in the day I saw the same man who came to the rescue pour green slimy water down that drain. This would have surely killed the ducklings. It's kind of representative of what states are doing to its people, by lowering the FPL, and changing other eligibility criteria; overall making it harder for people to obtain medicine and other necessary resources for survival. As we are being told in numerous state and nationally sponsored campaigns; get tested, know your status; we are also being told (if testing positive) that we cannot help you. This ADAP crisis sends the opposite message; a message of hopelessness; why get tested if I can't be treated?
Recent Research indicates that those on ARV (antiretroviral medication) are 96 percent less likely to pass the virus onto their partner). Research also indicates that starting ARV earlier in the progression of the disease helps prevent the virus from replicating to a point that significantly destroys the immune system. History tells us what untreated HIV infections can lead to; opportunistic infections, other illnesses, and DEATH. History has shown that silence = death. History has also shown that the power of voice, of action, of compassion, understanding, and care are the cornerstones of human existence.
With regard to the ADAP: voices are being displayed in public forums, through online initiatives, through teleconferences, through letter writing, and signing of petitions. Within the HIV/AIDS community we are showing compassion, care, and understanding to our friends living with HIV/AIDS. However, the "everyday" American has not caught on to the ADAP crisis, and most politicians and legislators are ill-informed, uneducated, and simply have become complacent to this issue.
What will it take? 8,000 people dying before this crisis makes the front page of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Sentinel and other newspapers from across the country. When will it hit the national news such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX and other local news channels? When will our government step in to fix the problem? Before it's too late?
Just as the quack of the duck became increasingly louder to save her baby chicks, OUR voices must be heard and cannot be silenced; as we have seen with regard to the Arab spring; great things can be accomplished when people band together to create desired change.
We have the medicine, we have the research to show us it works, and we have the history as a reminder to all of us what can happen when this disease is silenced. History also show's us the great accomplishments that have been made by our voices, AND our actions.
We can take this moment and seize it by rising up, standing out, and speaking up about HIV/AIDS and this ADAP crisis or we can take this moment; place it in the proverbial water well; only for our actions and words to be silenced. The latter CANNOT be an option.
Until there is a cure our government MUST not re-main complacent and must make sure that EVERY American living with HIV/AIDS has access to lifesaving and life sustaining medication which keep people alive and healthy.
Will you please sign this petition and leave a comment to tell Washington and States to STOP cuts to ADAP and other HIV/AIDS services; and to instead FULLY fund these programs!
Blog by Kevin Maloney, ADAP Advocacy Association member from Clifton Park, NY