[Marxism] Institutional support wanes as AIDS becomes disease of "the poor"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Apr 3 10:17:56 MST 2004

Two points: while in general working people have a harder time getting
help for AIDS, I think the problem is much worse for the many
working-class bisexuals, who often cannot face or are in family
situations which make it difficult to face the reality of the situation.
Even closeted homosexuals are more likely to accept the option of
confidential help from the many organizations now aiding the gay
community in this area.  And has there been any study of AIDS in prison
today,  where many prisoners (male and female) have rather limited
options when it comes to sexual contact with another human being?
Fred Feldman
Critics charge that now that the AIDS caseload falls more heavily on
minorities, government and social service agencies are losing interest. 
BY FRED TASKER Posted on Wed, Mar. 31, 2004
ftasker at herald.com 
As the face of AIDS has changed from that of gay white males to blacks,
Hispanics and other minorities over the past 20 years, critics charge
that governments and community leaders have lost interest in fighting
it, and even churches have turned away from those in pain. 
That was the message of a long line of impassioned speakers in a public
Town Hall meeting at the American Foundation for AIDS Research's
National HIV/AIDS Update Conference, which ended Tuesday in Miami. 
"The money has dried up because AIDS is looking different these days,"
said the Rev. D.Mrtri Crafton Cato-Watson, pastor of Harris Chapel
United Methodist Church in Fort Lauderdale. "The people with money ain't
black folks, they ain't [Hispanics]. AIDS research would never have come
as far as it did in the '80s if AIDS had had a black face then." 
"The HIV population is different now from 20 years ago," said Doralba
Munoz of Union Positive, a Hispanic support group in Miami. "It was
affluent, well-educated. Now we're dealing with an underground of poor
people, undocumented people, people who are very sick, who have no
insurance. Who don't understand how to take drugs. . . . I've marched in
favor of the fight for 25 years, I've been arrested -- and I feel we're
right back at the beginning." 
In 1982, new AIDS cases were 59 percent non-Hispanic white, 25 percent
black and 15 percent Hispanic. In 2001 they were 43 percent non-Hispanic
white, 38 percent black and 19 percent Hispanic, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
"Latino leaders in the U.S. must decide where we fit in the fight
against AIDS," said Munoz. "The Hispanic Caucus in Congress hasn't been
nearly as active as the Black Caucus." 
Members of both Florida and Miami-Dade government protested their
agencies' policies forbidding them from advocating such "harm-reduction"
policies as needle- exchange programs to prevent HIV transmission by
used, infected needles among drug users. 
"I favor needle exchange, but I'm not supposed to talk about it," said
Dr. Paul Arons, of the Division of HIV/AIDS, Florida Department of
Health. "Some things won't change until the people in power change.' 
"Ditto for me," said Evelyn Ullah, of the Division of HIV/AIDS,
Miami-Dade County Health Department. "We need a rebirth of the Civil
Rights movement for AIDS." 
Churches came in for criticism as well. 
"Black churches have come out against gay marriage," said Tim McCarron,
of Act Up, Miami. "That's the group that's supposed to lead the fights
against AIDS? It won't happen." 
"Compared to the black church, there's a denial in Latino churches, a
closing of doors to those who need help the most," Munoz said. 
Candace Carter, 20, a technical school student from Fort Lauderdale who
said she watched her mother die of AIDS, said reaching young people like
her can be difficult. "They don't know how serious it is. They sleep
together. Then they feel that if they're going to die, you're going to
die, too. They don't want help. They don't want to talk about it." 
Said McCarron: "We need a movement to have 100,000 people marching to
get their attention. Martin Luther King did it. Ghandi did it. But it's
never been done in the face of AIDS. I plead with you to go back to your
communities and get involved." 


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