Friday, October 8, 2010

My ADAP Crisis Summit Experience

In a previous blog I spoke about becoming a board member of the ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+). In July we held our ADAP Crisis Summit. I have to give props to Brandon Macsata for organizing this whole thing. He did a fantastic job. With over 2,000 people who are not getting their life saving medication this years summit was extremely important. The best part about the summit is that you meet people from all walks of life who are all about helping those with HIV/AIDS. The topics at the summit were all very interesting. They ranged from the waiting lists, housing, health care. With so much information I was glad to hear we (aaa+) provided a zip drive with all the slides from the speakers presentations. It was a great to take home and review anything I may of missed or didn’t understand.

I love going to these conferences because I learn so much and get to meet and hang with others who are in the same boat. When I hang out with other HIV+ people it reminds me that I am not alone. Sometimes when I am going through the motions of everyday life I forget that. Since I am the only HIV+ person I see on a regular basis the feeling of loneliness arrives often. My favorite part about the summit is when I actually meet fellow POZIAMer’s (members of POZIAM). I had a few awesome moments at the conference.

Dab Garner-Robert-Christopher Myron-Amy - Justin B Smith

On the first day, I was out side smoking a cigarette and was speaking with a few attendees, who just happen to be long term survivors. Some told me that they were members of POZIAM and that it nice it was to see a new generation step up and start advocating. They joked about retiring and passing the torch on to me. It was a very special experience for me. This coming from members of the AIDS community who have over 20+ years living and advocated for the disease and the people it affects. I was honored and humbled by this conversation.

The second day I walking into a breakout session that was called “Why Housing Matters”. The session included a speaker named Christine Campbellof Housing Works. I was blown away with what she said. She spoke with passion and purpose and it drew me to her. It was like she had some special powers that made me want to talk to her, want to hug her, and want to be her friend.. She spoke about how important it is for people with HIV/AIDS to have a roof over their head. Stable housing is important to stable health. They go hand and hand. She inspired me to want to get involved with the housing issues in the HIV/AIDS community.

The final day I got to hear Dr. Sonnabend particpate in a debate over starting meds early. It was truly an honor. This man has so much knowledge and it was something I will never forget. Going to the summit for the last 2 years I had the privilege to meet Dab Garner who truly is a warrior in this fight. Many know Dab from his work with Dab the AIDS Bear Project. I am sure if your on Facebook or POZIAM you have seen many of the photos of people with the little bear. He is one of my heroes and am honored to call him my friend. I left the conference with a bunch of new friends and many fond memories.

ADAPs with Waiting Lists - (2,359 individuals, as of July 29, 2010)

Florida: 925 people

Georgia: 240 people
Hawaii: 14 people
Idaho: 29 people
Iowa: 111 people
Kentucky: 225 people
Louisiana: 219 people
Montana: 22 people
North Carolina: 186 people
Ohio: unknown number
South Carolina: 238 people
South Dakota: 23 people
Utah: 126 people

This is such a disgrace to me … I don’t understand how Americans are not receiving their life saving medications but the government can ship money and drugs to other countries and allow our own people to go with out. How can we tell people to go get tested and to start meds right away, Then when they do they get put on a waiting list.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Robert. It was a pleasure getting to spend time with you again at the Summit. Keep up the great work! Thanks for being one of our Ambassadors of Hope and helping spread Dab the AIDS Bear's 29 year message of hope.
    big bear hug,
    Daddy Dab