Jeromy Dunn from POZitively speaking. Open letter to readers
To my dear family, friends and to anyone else who reads this blog,
It should be no surprise to any one that this country is in economic dire straights. The auto industry is bankrupt, the financial industry is facing losses it hasn’t seen since the Great Depression, and the United States has close to a 10% unemployment rate. And with these, states are facing tremendous budget deficits. You see, most states are not allowed to carry a deficit, and by law each state must have a balanced budget.
In order for states to balance their budgets, law makers have to make increasingly difficult decisions. California is facing a $24 billion deficit and law makers are looking at slashing HIV/AIDS funding by $80 million the state will also lose $88 million in federal and an estimated $234 million in private matching funds according to Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In the face of budget shortfalls, the North Carolina legislature is proposing to eliminate the HIV Medicaid Case Management program. This program provides crucial support to people living with HIV, helping them access medical care, medications, and the support services needed to live healthier lives.
With infection rates nearing 60,000 new cases every year and approximately 1.5 million living with HIV or AIDS today, we cannot allow these services to trimmed or cut completely out of the budgets. In this time of budgetary crisis, we all must accept the fact that we have to make sacrifices; however, this is a sacrifice that we cannot make.
You may be thinking that these cuts will never effect you; you are wrong. Dead wrong. Because I am HIV positive these cuts directly effect me, my partner, and my family. Anyone who is living with HIV today is at risk of losing their benefits which they have relied on for years and because some who are living with HIV/AIDS are unable to work and cannot afford private insurance on their own. Some have no family or their families have cut them out of their [families’] lives.
HIV/AIDS is not just a virus that feeds on healthy CD4 (TCells) to replicate, it also leads to depression and other mental / emotional health needs. HIV/AIDS is still a killer. HIV/AIDS when left untreated will usually lead to a person’s death within around 3-5 years of diagnosis. When HIV is treated with the right combination of medicines a person can live virtually a ‘normal’ and healthy life.
No one deserves this disease, I certainly never asked for it. I never wanted this. I never wanted to see what the news of my diagnosis did to my family and friends. So I am asking you today not to allow me to become another HIV related death statistic, nor should we allow anyone else to suffer the same fate neither.
So, please help those are not able to help themselves with a compassionate heart. Or if you wish not to help a stranger then help me; it could be my life you are saving.
Thank you for reading this,
Jeromy A. Dunn, HIV positive since 2005