Kellee Terrell's “Child, Alive” (July/August 2009) introduced POZ readers to Noah Mushimiyimana, an HIV-positive, 15-year-old rapper from Rwanda, and Leigh Blake, cofounder of Keep a Child Alive, who's dedicated to helping children living with HIV achieve their dreams.
I work with Louise Binder [chair of Canadian Treatment Action Council] in Rwanda, doing capacity building among HIV organizations and individuals. Everyone should be aware that the clinic, Icyuzuzo, where Noah was being treated and met Blake, has been closed due to lack of funds. The staff is unemployed, and the clients are stranded. Many governments and large foundations are pulling their money out of Rwanda during the economic recession and “refocusing” it into other regions. It's having a devastating effect.
As an African woman from Kenya, I'm impressed with Blake's compassionate heart and how she's reaching out to the needy in Africa. [HIV/AIDS] stigma is still a very big deal in Kenya and most of Africa. Noah's achievement will break the stigma barriers not only for his peers, where he lives, but also for the rest of the community. Thank you, Blake, for helping Noah achieve his dream. May God continue blessing you for bringing hope to more young people in Africa.
On August 24, POZ reported on the Obama Administration's launch of National HIV/AIDS Community Discussions. Many of our readers sounded off with their opinions and requests.
There is an urgent need to increase funding for Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA).
North New Jersey
It is a very nice beginning for people who live with HIV. President Obama, I request termination of travel restrictions put on people who live with HIV.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We need to have many more discussions on HIV because people don't understand it. Too many young people think that because there is medicine, they don't have to be careful.
Kansas City, Mo
As an HIV advocate for over 13 years, I believe we have talked enough. It is time to roll out and fund the programs that have proved successful. We need to address the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and address access to affordable medication, housing and transportation. We need to bring the HIV community together with programs supporting social activities and encouraging relationships with other HIV-infected people.
While the president's comments sound encouraging, I am not surprised by the vague and ambiguous language. No one has mentioned that Obama's health care reform may opt people out as being too costly. I will wait to see with an open mind. But don't forget, in spite of how you feel about Obama and whether you are wooed by charismatic charm, he is still a politician, and his political survival will always be first. Politicians have not exactly been friends to the HIV crisis.
Long Beach, Ca
Editor's note: Visit the POZ Advocacy hub at poz.com/advocacy to add
your voice to the National HIV/AIDS Community Discussions.