Five years ago, HIVer Joe
Rattner, now 38, ditched New York City for Hawaii—hoping the beaches
and laid-back lifestyle would be healing. Instead, he found rampant
drug use and poor HIV care. Rattner fought back, founding the West Oahu
Hope for a Cure Foundation. A state caravan organizer for October’s
Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA; visit www.c2ea.org), Rattner is helping HIV
positive islanders get to LA and caravan to Washington, DC. Be there.
Why are you marching? Hawaii
HIV care is nowhere near New York City’s. If you’re on ADAP but don’t
qualify for Medicaid and need testosterone or pain killers to manage
side effects, you’re screwed.
So it’s not exactly paradise? It’s
Mormon country here—students are using drugs even though they believe
in [substance] abstinence. These are small islands with lots of HIV
stigma—word gets around quickly.
How will the Hawaiian delegation get to the mainland? We’re
holding a PBS inter-island fundraising telethon October 1 for people
who can’t afford airfare to LA or DC. We’ll have ancient and
modern hula dancers performing on-air.