Non-Shock of the Week: Housing Improves Health for HIV+ & Other News

This was a big news week for people interested in HIV/AIDS domestically, which is usually rarely covered (and certainly not well) in the press. (For those of you new to this blog, I do a lot of work in HIV/AIDS prevention and policy as an activist/community organizer and writer.)

  1. The biggest, and most non-shocking of them all was the release of results from two major demonstration projects that showed if you give people with HIV access to affordable housing, they are much more likely to have fewer emergency room visits, fewer opportunisitic infections, adhere to treatment, and a host of other benefits. READ MORE.
  2. Also since this was the Black Church Week of Prayer on HIV/AIDS, a few editorials came out in newspapers. And I guess some people prayed about it. Columbia, SC’s The State produces an opinion piece that is high on blame-filled righteousness, and low on structural issues, which we KNOW for a fact are driving the epidemic in Black communities: “While there’s a dire need for more government funding for treatment and education, all citizens, black people particularly, must take responsibility for themselves and help battle this public health crisis, which affects all races, socio-economic groups and genders…People must change their risky behaviors. HIV/AIDS can be prevented. Anyone ever heard of abstinence, for example?”

Really? Ugh. My mom wants me to move to Columbia to be closer to family. I love you Ma, but when I read shit like this, I just can’t.

3. A better op-ed was written for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, by two doctors with the DC based National Medical Association (which represents Black physicians). The offered some concrete advice for Pres. Bush to deal with the domestic AIDS crisis in Black communities: “• Develop a national plan. Despite the fact that this scourge is decimating minority communities in this country, the U.S. has no national plan to deal with the AIDS epidemic. • Appoint a leader. Not only does the U.S. not have a plan, but no one is in charge of the problem. Once a leader is named, community groups, churches, medical groups and others should work together to resolve the most pressing issues. • Focus on resources. While funds are scattered around the country to fight HIV/AIDS in many little pockets across the U.S., the bulk of the money should instead be devoted to African American communities with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. “

4. The best editorial was written by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison for the Louisiana Weekly: “We must take time to get involved in our local communities, urging our friends and families to get tested and get educated about transmission modes of HIV/AIDS. We must continue our efforts to ensure that treatment is accessible to all those who are currently living with HIV. It is essential that we see this crisis in its broader context if we hope to slow the spread of this epidemic in our communities. I also believe we must take a hard look at other factors that the experts tell us contribute to these high rates of infection among African Americans: economics, education, homophobia, incarceration, and faith in government.”

5: Lastly there was a major breakthrough in HIV science, as reported by Science Daily: “By outfitting immune-system killer cells with a new pair of genes, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University transformed them into potent weapons that destroy cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Their novel strategy of genetically engineering immune cells to redirect their infection-fighting ability toward killing HIV-infected cells could lead to an entirely new approach for combating AIDS and other viral diseases.”

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