There’s no quick, easy way to bridge the divide between America’s two worlds of HIV, but here are four places to start:
1. HELP PASS ETHA The Early Treatment for HIV/AIDS Act would let states offer Medicaid to folks before they are disabled by AIDS. This could cut HIV deaths among the Medicaid set in half. Visit www.taepusa.org for more action points. And keep fighting to save ADAP (www.atdn.org) while you’re at it!
2. SACK STIGMA It makes people delay HIV testing or travel miles from home for treatment in secret. New York AIDS Coalition’s Joe Pressley calls for prevention and education campaigns within the communities they’re meant to reach: “If we move away from that, we drag the epidemic further underground.”
3. GROW THE GRASSROOTS Stigma-busting groups are “struggling to stay alive,” says the National Minority AIDS Council’s Carole Bernard. Click “Public Policy” at www.nmac.org and read the letter in which more than 150 such agencies asked President Bush to stop defunding and bullying them. Write one ASO a check if you can. Better yet, lend your time or expertise.
4. REACH ACROSS THE GULF If life with HIV is treating you well, share your survival with someone who needs it. HIV newbies: Read Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On to learn what your forbears went through. Veterans: Meet the epidemic’s new faces at www.blackaids.org. Everybody: Hear a new story. Challenge your comfort zone. Leave your neighborhood.