High-powered lobbyists are important. Clearly, advocates representing national organizations are important. But no single group is more important than the constituents residing in a Member of Congress' district, or state. In 2006, 2008 and 2010, there were three consecutive "change" elections, and many political pundits are predicting that 2012 just might be another. And that's why people effected by and affected by HIV/AIDS need to reserve their respective seats at the table. It’s about building relationships, solidifying constituencies, and influencing key decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
The ADAP Advocacy Association's 4th Annual Conference - being held in Washington, DC on July 5-7th - represents one, among many, opportunities for people living with HIV/AIDS to become more involved in the process. Members of Congress and their professional staffs would much rather speak directly to their constituents than "playing nice" with DC-based professionals. The conference theme, When will Washington come to the rescue?, was intentionally named as such because it highlights one of the biggest drivers behind the ongoing crisis facing the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs: lack of federal funding. Keep in mind, federal funding as a percentage for ADAP decreased from 72% in 2005 to 49% in 2010.
In essence, aaa+ understands that the ADAP crisis isn't about politicians, or pharmaceutical companies, or community AIDS Service Organizations - in fact, it isn't even about the funding itself. Rather, it is about the very people living with HIV/AIDS living in the United States who rely on the program to remain healthy, productive residents in their communities back home. What aaa+ hopes to accomplish with its 4th Annual Conference - and other programs - is to create an army of self-advocates who can end the ADAP waiting lists. After all, it is back home where they can most influence the decisions that adversely impact their daily lives.
Used in this context, self advocates can be defined as people living with HIV/AIDS, acting or speaking on issues that affect them or other people living with HIV/AIDS. Said another way, self advocates are people that communicate on behalf of themselves and others like themselves. Self advocacy has four integrated parts:
In preparation for conference, all ADAP stakeholders - but especially people living with HIV/AIDS - are invited to learn more and hopefully participate. The agenda is available online, as well as the registration form (if you're a pharmaceutical company representative, click here). For those ADAP stakeholders seeking a detail explanation of why the conference is focused on the federal appropriations, please review the conference summary.