Maybe you’ve never donated much to any particular organization or cause. Maybe you don’t really follow politics or activists. Maybe you’re just a busy person trying to get by, and don’t have much time to keep up with the news or issues facing the LGBT community.
But this month, it’s incredibly easy to do something good, to do something that’s simple and that directly affects people in your own neighborhood.
Although HIV/AIDS is no longer the disease du jour to support – it’s not like breast cancer, whose pink ribbons pop up on packaging for nearly everything from yogurt to toilet paper – it affects people in our state every single day. There are 20,000 people in Michigan who live with the disease, and the vast majority of them live in the Metro Detroit area, especially in the city itself.
Perhaps HIV/AIDS is no longer the hip disease to support because we think its threat is under control. Information about sexually transmitted diseases tends to make its way into even the most basic health and sex education lessons. We understand the disease now, what it is and how it works. We also have access to better medications. HIV/AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence, but a chronic disease.
But with new infection rates as high as ten percent in our state, clearly HIV/AIDS is not under control. Even though our young people are aware of the disease, they are still contracting it. And even though better medications are available, they still wreck nuclear havoc on the bodies and lives of those who have to take them. It is by no means easy to live with the disease.
All of this appears even scarier when considering that federal funding for state HIV/AIDS organizations – often their largest source of funding – is being slashed in the upcoming years. What isn’t being slashed is certainly threatened by political infighting and the potential overhaul to our healthcare system.
The shaky state of federal funding makes for even more difficult day-to-day operations for our state organizations that are dedicated to providing treatment and pushing prevention. Federal funding often comes in the form of reimbursement to the organizations for services that have already been given. Our organizations keep operating even though they’re unsure if the federal government will follow through on its promise of repayment.
This month, it is incredibly easy for you to help remedy these problems. This weekend and next, you can donate a few dollars and take a walk, showing your support of those affected. Next weekend, you can take in fantastic works of art and delicious local cuisine. These upcoming events (read about them in our news section) provide simple ways to give a little time and money to our organizations that work in prevention and treatment.
A director of one of the state HIV/AIDS organizations said that more than anything, this disease belongs to our community. The disease also belongs to the other minority communities that it disproportionately affects. When it affects one of us, it affects all of us. Help us rise up from the stigma and shame of a disease that is most associated with our lives and identities. Take the upcoming opportunities and give the time and money that you can.