Saturday, October 29, 2005

Paving The Way

Walden Unleashed

Miles of highway cut through heaping mounds of foliage, halted explosions in variations of orange and red and purple and green and brown and yellow. In the distance: a hill of determinable slope reaches upward toward the horizon. To my left: a bay lined by cat tails and tall grasses; water meets land and in places it’s impossible to discern the glassy surface of the water from the reflections of leaves that meet with the water’s edge and the lily pads that are submerged just below.

Cloud-strained sunlight passes in radiant ripples, forced onward by a cool autumnal breeze: mighty in its effortless push against the clouds, gentle as it brushes against my cheek.

Walden was a vision, a transcendentalist vignette. This is Maryland.

We’ve been joined by a new contingency today. Dawning puffy black coats and baggy jeans, they seem at odds with the environment. Black on black New York Yankee caps, Timberland boots, Sean John labels, these are the members of an urban tribe whose home is far from the pastoral quietude of this wilderness.

Standing on the banks of the river, they stare together, as though looking for the first time or maybe seeing for the first time a wall of trees. They run coyly in ineffective circles, as Charles unleashes handfuls of billowing pussy willow seeds that bob and weave through the air, excited that they too can play with these enchanted people.

For most, it’s unclear why people rise at five AM to board a bus set for nowhere: it’s a counterintuitive, instinctual calling. And for the first five miles or so, it’s still unclear. But wariness grows to interest grows to involvement grows to passion grows to release and reconciliation; there is an effect on the road that is indisputable.

There is a change that occurs, for those who let it. There is a reminder that beyond the canyons of an indifferent city there are spaces where benevolent Nature trumps artifice and in that space ephemeral truth slays cultural illusion. The societal lies we believe from necessity are no longer necessary and their melting and dispersion is the revelation of a more integral self.

Banners and signs, marching and driving, screaming and singing: these are all the calling cards of revolution. As our communal rhythms change so do we and the world around us.

Reposing in sunlight, I’m skeptical of a better way to draw radiance into darkness and color into blackness.

Daniel Solon
10.29.2005

Paving The Way

Paving the Way Johnny

Paving the Way (Johnny)

I have no clue what day is today but all I know is that we are in Baltimore city staying in this 3 bedroom house.  Well anyway right now I’m totally clueless but I know one thing I am having so much fun and this is just changing my life everyday I learn something new everyday I meet someone new but yet everyday someone dies of HIV/AIDS so as exciting as this caravan is there is a lot of work that we have to do and we are getting there.  Learning from other people in other states and there issues the things that they go through from stigma to gay bashing it’s just unbelievable but all of this just makes me angry but stronger at the same time .  We are going to END AIDS I know we are I never felt this way in my life and I wish my uncle was still alive to experience this I wish my family understood why I am going on this long journey but they will soon.  But this is amazing we are actually doing it!  All of us not only Paving the Way but all the other caravans it’s exciting to see pictures and read stories of a lot of the members that attended the Youth Action Institute.  I can’t wait to meet you all again in D.C.

The Paving the Way caravan is a family and we all have different personalities and we are getting to know each other better. Famous Amous well what can I say about him he’s a mess (lol).  Valerie, Terri, Robin, Dianalynn and new comer Julie are the divas (yea right lol) Kiara is so calm and the girl found herself a baby daddy around the corner because she is MIA (lol).  Ilena, Dougie and Daniel left me here with the old folks.  The Jerffersons are in the basement and they are partying and having a good time.  They disserve all the fun they work so hard giving out flyers and spreading the word around. Eddie FU is sleeping with Sheila and Roody they are they early sleepers.  Diane William is right next to me talking to someone she sounds sexy but enough of her.  Uncle Charles is reading his newspaper from 4 days ago.  

Robin has a very big mouth I just noticed it’s 11 pm and she is making so much noise this is URBAN CAMPING when you stuck with beautiful loud people like Robin and “city girl” Terri Smith.

Well anyway I’m writing a lot of nonsense about what is going on in this house today.

But I need to work on my speech for the upcoming events, so let me start with that enough of this.

Tomorrow I will give you and update.

Johnny Guaylupo  

Paving The Way

Today and Days Previous

We are committing an act of beauty.

Daniel Solon
10.29.2005

C2EA Nor'easter Caravan

Dorchester, MA



Well here we are! Here is France, Ray and I in Dorchester. Today's event was called The Community Forum Process; The Road to the State of Emergency at the Great Love Tabernacle Church in Dorchester. Rev Franklin Hobbs was like our MC it was great. I am not a big church goer but you walked into this house of worship and it was amazing, the energy and love literally just made me have such goosebumps and it was welcoming. I made it there a bit late because I was waiting for an aircard and cellphone which was donated by Sprint - thanks Jim!

There was a prayer service, a presentation about a State of Emergency that was declared by the city council of Boston regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in communities of color in Boston. There was a community forum, some youth called Commited to Christ (C2C) a youth hip hop group,some folks who were running for office it was just alot of community folks who came out to speak out! It was awesome! Thanks to everyone for all your hard work...

Tomorrow we head to Northampton, MA
Student/Community Forum on HIV Prevention Activism.
Smith College, Seeyle Room 106.
1:00PM
Join us to learn about HIV/AIDS prevention policy locally, nationally, and globally, and hear from local activists about how to get involved in the fight for science-based prevention and social justice in western Massachusetts. Contact: Elizabeth Reynolds, ereynold@smith.edu, 347-684-2100.

I have to get batteries for my camera and so we'll have more pics to share with you...

A special shout out to Jerry and all the folks involved in todays event. Jerry spent a lot of time preparing our arrival so Awesome job!

Until tomorrow...

Tom Donohue
State College, PA from Dorchester MA

I forgot to add Alycia and her crew from CT were there too, YAY!!

Paving The Way

Soul of the South: Day 13 and before

Day 13

Wow!  This trip as amazing.  From New Orleans we went to Biloxi.  We met up with 3 more riders at the Southern Mississippi AIDS Task Force!  One of them was a 2 year old boy.  His father died of AIDS, his mother, Jessica, is infected, and he is negative.  Stories like that just make me shiver.  The mom didn’t find out she was positive, until after the dad died.  Gabriel is such a cute little boy.  Jessica is so vibrant and full of life.  She’s been positive for 10 years, and she will live to see her baby grow up into a strong man.  Everyone I met since I left Houston has inspired me so much.  The other rider, Kathy is really nice.  Her husband also died of AIDS.  She lost a lot of friends and family when she started to disclose.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think of all the people that are so hateful, just because of a little virus.  I couldn’t even imagine if my mom had disowned me when I disclosed.  I think I would have lost all hope in life.  These people are so strong to me.  I feel honored to be in this van with these wonderful people.

In Biloxi, we also saw Shannan Reaze from the Youth Action Institute.  It was so great to see her.  She’s crazy, happy, energetic, and fun.  That’s why we get along so well J  They showed us a couple of videos.  One was about the TITANS from the Youth Action Institute.  I recognized a bunch of people in the video.  It was nice to see familiar faces.  Then we went to the beach and looked at all the damage caused by Katrina.  It was very different from the damage back home.  Both places, lots of things will need to be destroyed.  In New Orleans, the houses will need to be demolished because the water went above the roofs and destroyed everything in it/the structure of the building.  The building were still standing though.  In Biloxi, the buildings were just big piles of rubble.  Sometimes they weren’t even there.  Many of the buildings on the coast were missing the 1st 2 floors, and the rest of the building was still there.  It was so sad to see.  I didn’t see many numbers on the buildings, because there were no buildings.  The cops came and told us we couldn’t be there, so we went back to the agency.

Then we headed to Mobile, AL.  We got there around 6.  They had a big reception for us at a local church, but most of the people left because we didn’t know people were waiting for us.  There were still lots of people there though.  They cooked us an awesome dinner of Spaghetti, salad, and brownies.  I met Lester, from the Mobile AIDS Support Services, who runs a bunch of prevention programs including Mpowerment.  GO Mpowerment…  OK, I had to plug favorite intervention.  I’m such a nerd.  I met Brian who also works in prevention there.  Scott, who is on the board of directors.  Asia, Scott, Lester, and I were cutting up all during dinner.  It’s amazing how friendly people are to us.  Everyone set up camp in different rooms upstairs.  We were going to go see Mobile clubs, but Asia lost her ID, so we went to Lesters and hung out and watched TV instead.  The next morning we met a bunch more people.  I learned that there is a 300 people waiting list for ADAP drugs in Mobile.  Larry (not Bryant), recently re-located to Mobile, and he can’t get his meds until someone either dies or moves away.  We must come together and tell our officials that THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.  People are DYING because of funding cuts.  I couldn’t believe this poor man’s story.  We talked all morning long, and got some more front burner forms signed to bring to DC.  We headed over to MASS to meet the rest of the staff.  It was a nice building.  Then we headed to Mobile Office of Public Health.  We met with a man there and told him about C2EA.  By this time, it was 5 on Friday.  We decided to go back to the church.  Asia, Lester, and I decided to go to the fair last night, but they told us we wouldn’t be able to get back into the church so we stayed at Lester’s house.  We went over there to rest up before the fair.  I was just about to fall asleep when the Washington Post called and interviewed me.  I wasn’t expecting that and I was half asleep.  She said she got my number from Tim.  Thanks Tim!  I guess I’m gonna be in the Washington Post.  Then Asia and I watched the Laramie Project and cried for awhile, then we went to the fair.  The fair was cute.  We rode a bunch of rides, and got really dizzy.  I almost fell out of one of the rides, because I’m too skinny.  It was kinda scary, but he all had fun.  I convinced Lester to meet us in DC on Nov. 4th.  Now we are headed to Phoenix City.

DC is gonna be so awesome.  It’s going to be like one HUGE family reunion.  I’m so excited.  I get to see all of my friends from the Youth Action Institute and all of my new friends from across the country!  I’m very excited.

 

 

Chris Rothermel

Host Committee Organizer: Soul of the South, Houston
Campaign to End AIDS

rothermel.c@gmail.com

 

C2EA Nor'easter Caravan

on our way

I AM SO EXCITED TO BE KICKING OFF THE NOR'EASTER CARAVAN WE HAD A WONDERFUL EVENT TODAY i MET SOME WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO FOLLOW THE CARAVAN ON THE WEBSITE. iT'S SO GREAT.RIGHT NOW WERE GOING TO JERRY TO STAY THE NIGHT.

FRANCE FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE

Paving The Way

Chores Today

Paving the Way…..to the Laundromat
It is Day 14 (I think, I have lost track by now!) and Terri, Valerie, Dianalynn, Anthony (who drives the Thrift Shop truck) and I have gone off to Baltimore to check out the house we are staying in for 4 nights straight (woo hoo!) and to find a Laundromat to drop off everyone’s clothes. Everyone else headed out to the road where we left off walking yesterday to continue our walk into Baltimore, where the bus from NYC should have met them by now. I am sitting out in the van waiting for them to finish talking to Bettye, our wonderful host from Baltimore, who has arranged all this for us. She works for “Hero”, an ASO here in Baltimore. It was so great to see how excited she was that we are finally here. I understand there are supposed to be a lot of people coming out today from NY. That will be great. I saw a lot of emails that people wrote last night about experiences people have had out here, and urging folks to come out if only for a day, to experience this for themselves. I was really touched by the support that we are receiving, not only from our own Housing Works folks, but from the people we are meeting from all over and from our hosts in different states. I, like my fellow walkers, were at first a little discouraged by the small turnouts of “Daytrippers” joining us, but soon realized that numbers are irrelevant. The fact that we are doing this, and so many lives have been touched along the way, including our own, is really the bottom line and while it’s great to have more people, it really doesn’t matter how many people spread the hope and the message. That the message is being sent at all, that is what matters. I do wish more people could have gotten to experience some of the life changing experiences we have, and bonded in a way I would have never guessed, but that’s OK too. Our motto out here has become, “It is what it is, and it”s all good”. My sentiments exactly! LOL I only have a few minutes before we have to get back on the road, so I’ll end this for now
Much love
Robin Milim

C2EA Nor'easter Caravan

Here we go....!

Well I am on my way from Boston to Dorchester MA to our first event! Last night I got to spend some time with an ex of mine and we went to dinner it was nice and a real pick-me-up to get me even more excited about this journey!

We started leaving and came upon SNOW - well ok it was just spitting snow but it was snow. A few days a go back home in PA we had 2 inches.

Alright ta ta for now...

Tom Donohue
State College, PA

this is an audio post - click to play

C2EA American Heritage Caravan

American Heritage caravan update # 8

By Vaughn Frick
American Heritage caravan rider

October 28, 2005
Iowa City,Iowa to Aurora, Illinois to Chicago, Illinois

Last evening we slept on the floor of a cold basement at Trinity Episcopalion Church in Iowa City after eating dinner at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen. After being together on the bus all day there was no facility for showering or cleaning up. For me this was a needed reality check as to why we are on this caravan. Imagine having to live this realty daily while saddled with a terminal illness. That is the realty and fate that many of the estimated one million people living with HIV/AIDS in this great United States will face if the Ryan White Care Act is not reauthorized and fully funded. This is why this caravan is bearing witness to the dire state HIV/AIDS services in the heartland of this country, why we will be participating in the four days of actions when all ten caravans converge in Washington, D.C. on November the fourth.
Imagine being denied access to the medications which you need to live, to face death alone on the streets of America. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and those poor Americans left to die was a brutal wake-up call for all in this country unable to afford health care, for the hundreds of thousands Americans living on the edge with no medical insurance.
Iowa city is a reflection of America; on the surface another college town that has the feel of a tourist trap with many bright and flashy bars and entertainment facilities. The children of those who can afford this lifestyle walk the streets in hundred dollar shoes partying with their friends at night, while the invisible of that community struggle to meet their basic needs. This morning I walked out onto the roof of the church where we stayed, my footsteps crunching into the sharp layer of frost formed from last night's freeze. Below and across from this church I saw where the homeless were sleeping, their bodies pulled into the landscape's shrubbery for warmth, for protection from the cold and the night.
Several American Heritage Caravan riders in their lives have also been homeless, and struggle daily from slipping on the bureaucratic ice back into this urban kind of hell. To see this breed of abuse, of deprivation for them was as the fear of being trapped in an abusive relationship, one that leads to the morgue.
Last night a community forum was called at Trinity Church for this caravan, where 16 people from the community attended. There was a banner made from a sheet and cloth paint with C2EA's logo on it, made by two local teen-aged girls. We have it with us now on our caravan bus. We promised to carry it with us on our journey to Washington, D.C.
One of the American Heritage caravan riders, Joe, told a part of his own very moving story and related a telling conversation he'd had with his mother. "My mother asked me, 'Do you always have to fight other peoples battles?' I said, 'Yes. But the only difference is that this this time it's MY battle too.'"
A local speaker, Tim, said that they get 10 newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS each month. He told us that the majority of these people are going to need to access Ryan White funds and ADAP. Without those funds being available their futures shall be bleak.
Still on the subject of those funds Tim said, "When I think about how we came from a 'gay cancer' which killed in weeks (of diagnosis) to today...I'm grateful for today." But one of his most poignant observations was that "if you make a friend of a person with HIV, you shall have made friends with your greatest source of information about HIV." So now you know. If you want to learn about something, go make friends with someone who's living it every day of their lives!
Caravan counselor Jack spoke on a more global level. He spoke about the destabilization of whole countries in Africa due to the massive numbers of younger adults dying, leaving only the elderly and the children. Many of the children have no role models, parents to teach them cultural values and to give them a sense of belonging and place. With out that these children are ripe for being taken advantage of by terrorist recruiters and roving gangs.
American Heritage caravan rider Chris spoke about the difficulties of reaching the black community with AIDS prevention here at home. The first issue he spoke of was that there is a general and historic sense of disenfranchisement amongst African Americans. The second issue he spoke about was the cultural bias against homosexuality and the way HIV is still associated as a 'gay disease'.
When Joe spoke again he led us in a chant (the beat was 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2), w w w end aids now dot com! It was fun and people learned a valuable resource at the same time!
our next stop was in Aurora, Illinois, the home district of Republican Speaker Of The House Denny Hastert. Inside the Fox River Community Center we arrived at the start of a meeting called with a representative from Denny Hastert's office to speak about the utter neccesity of reauthorizing and fully funding the Ryan White Care Act.
One speaker said: "I have seen in other parts of the country people waiting for someone to die so they can get on services. I don't want to see Chicago come to that."
A worker in the social services spoke about her experiences before the Ryan White Care act was created: "I met a homeless woman whom I could offer nothing but my friendship and business card. A week later I got a call from the morgue. They said 'We have a woman here with no I.D;just a card with your name and number on it.' I don't ever want to go back to that."
This next part is reprinted from a joint letter to Illinois members of Congress about the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act:
As individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS throughout the state of Illinois, and as organizations serving people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS in rural, suburban, and urban communities, e write to express our deep concern regarding President Bush's Rtan White CARE Act reauthorization principles. The CARE act is the nation's flagship response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, having provided comprehensive medical and social services to poor,uninsured people who have no other options for healthcare since 1990. We wish to see the CARE Act continue in it's role of "safety net" by providing these lifesaving services to all individuals in need, regardless of where they live.
HIV/AIDS remains a life threatening infectious disease and a significant public health emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one million people in the United States are living with HIV, including more than 405,000
with AIDS. Approximately 211,000 individuals need antiretroviral treatment but have no means to access them. Over 1,900 people languish on AIDS drug assistance program waiting lists around the country. The Institute of Medicine estimates that over 314,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the United States lack consistent care and treatment. Meanwhile, the demand for services grows steadily. Each year, more than 40,000 new infections occur in the United States;1,600 of those in Illinois. More than 30,000 AIDS cases and over 16,400 deaths due to AIDS have been reported in Illinois since 1981.
After five years of flat funding and cuts for essential HIV/AIDS prevention and care services, and without a commitment for new funding, the Bush administration proposes to shift significant CARE resources away from hard-hit states to address HIV/AIDS in less populous and rural states.
Rural areas, especially in the South, are struggling against longstanding healthcare access problems, which are exacerbated by increasing rates of HIV in their communities. While all individuals living with HIV/AIDS should have the ability to access quality care and treatment,, disparities in healthcare experienced by poor people in one part of the country should not be addressed at the expense of poor people in another part of the country. Stealing from Peter to pay Paul- and dismantling lifesaving services for vulnerable populations with no other means to access health care- is unacceptable. Illinois will withstand significant cuts in funding and will suffer diminished infrastructure and service capacity should the Bush administration's principles be enacted. Thousands of Illinoisans with HIV/AIDS will face life-threatening gaps in care if the Bush administration's proposal is enacted.
We call on you to provide leadership necessary to ensure that geography does not determine access to essential medical and social services. We call on Congress to increase CARE Act funding by $594 million and to devise a plan to distribute the resources in a way that is fair and equitable to every American living with HIV/AIDS in need of healthcare, rejecting the Bush
administration's faulty principles. We also ask for the maintenance of local control to determine the appropriate mix of vital medical and supportive social services in every jurisdiction that receives funding.
Since it's inception in 1990, the CARE Act has enjoyed strong bipartisan support because of its ability to reach those in greatest need in both urban and rural communities. We look to you to continue the CARE Act legacy by reauthorizing the program, appropriating sufficient funding, and ensuring geographic equity so that Americans with HIV/AIDS-wherever they may live-can receive the rational and cost-effective out-patient services they need to survive.

We then blew into the Windy City.

C2EA American Heritage Caravan

American Heritage caravan update # 8

By Vaughn Frick
American Heritage caravan rider

October 28, 2005
Iowa City,Iowa to Aurora, Illinois to Chicago, Illinois

Last evening we slept on the floor of a cold basement at Trinity Episcopalion Church in Iowa City after eating dinner at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen. After being together on the bus all day there was no facility for showering or cleaning up. For me this was a needed reality check as to why we are on this caravan. Imagine having to live this realty daily while saddled with a terminal illness. That is the realty and fate that many of the estimated one million people living with HIV/AIDS in this great United States will face if the Ryan White Care Act is not reauthorized and fully funded. This is why this caravan is bearing witness to the dire state HIV/AIDS services in the heartland of this country, why we will be participating in the four days of actions when all ten caravans converge in Washington, D.C. on November the fourth.
Imagine being denied access to the medications which you need to live, to face death alone on the streets of America. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and those poor Americans left to die was a brutal wake-up call for all in this country unable to afford health care, for the hundreds of thousands Americans living on the edge with no medical insurance.
Iowa city is a reflection of America; on the surface another college town that has the feel of a tourist trap with many bright and flashy bars and entertainment facilities. The children of those who can afford this lifestyle walk the streets in hundred dollar shoes partying with their friends at night, while the invisible of that community struggle to meet their basic needs. This morning I walked out onto the roof of the church where we stayed, my footsteps crunching into the sharp layer of frost formed from last night's freeze. Below and across from this church I saw where the homeless were sleeping, their bodies pulled into the landscape's shrubbery for warmth, for protection from the cold and the night.
Several American Heritage Caravan riders in their lives have also been homeless, and struggle daily from slipping on the bureaucratic ice back into this urban kind of hell. To see this breed of abuse, of deprivation for them was as the fear of being trapped in an abusive relationship, one that leads to the morgue.
Last night a community forum was called at Trinity Church for this caravan, where 16 people from the community attended. There was a banner made from a sheet and cloth paint with C2EA's logo on it, made by two local teen-aged girls. We have it with us now on our caravan bus. We promised to carry it with us on our journey to Washington, D.C.
One of the American Heritage caravan riders, Joe, told a part of his own very moving story and related a telling conversation he'd had with his mother. "My mother asked me, 'Do you always have to fight other peoples battles?' I said, 'Yes. But the only difference is that this this time it's MY battle too.'"
A local speaker, Tim, said that they get 10 newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS each month. He told us that the majority of these people are going to need to access Ryan White funds and ADAP. Without those funds being available their futures shall be bleak.
Still on the subject of those funds Tim said, "When I think about how we came from a 'gay cancer' which killed in weeks (of diagnosis) to today...I'm grateful for today." But one of his most poignant observations was that "if you make a friend of a person with HIV, you shall have made friends with your greatest source of information about HIV." So now you know. If you want to learn about something, go make friends with someone who's living it every day of their lives!
Caravan counselor Jack spoke on a more global level. He spoke about the destabilization of whole countries in Africa due to the massive numbers of younger adults dying, leaving only the elderly and the children. Many of the children have no role models, parents to teach them cultural values and to give them a sense of belonging and place. With out that these children are ripe for being taken advantage of by terrorist recruiters and roving gangs.
American Heritage caravan rider Chris spoke about the difficulties of reaching the black community with AIDS prevention here at home. The first issue he spoke of was that there is a general and historic sense of disenfranchisement amongst African Americans. The second issue he spoke about was the cultural bias against homosexuality and the way HIV is still associated as a 'gay disease'.
When Joe spoke again he led us in a chant (the beat was 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2), w w w end aids now dot com! It was fun and people learned a valuable resource at the same time!
our next stop was in Aurora, Illinois, the home district of Republican Speaker Of The House Denny Hastert. Inside the Fox River Community Center we arrived at the start of a meeting called with a representative from Denny Hastert's office to speak about the utter neccesity of reauthorizing and fully funding the Ryan White Care Act.
One speaker said: "I have seen in other parts of the country people waiting for someone to die so they can get on services. I don't want to see Chicago come to that."
A worker in the social services spoke about her experiences before the Ryan White Care act was created: "I met a homeless woman whom I could offer nothing but my friendship and business card. A week later I got a call from the morgue. They said 'We have a woman here with no I.D;just a card with your name and number on it.' I don't ever want to go back to that."
This next part is reprinted from a joint letter to Illinois members of Congress about the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act:
As individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS throughout the state of Illinois, and as organizations serving people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS in rural, suburban, and urban communities, e write to express our deep concern regarding President Bush's Rtan White CARE Act reauthorization principles. The CARE act is the nation's flagship response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, having provided comprehensive medical and social services to poor,uninsured people who have no other options for healthcare since 1990. We wish to see the CARE Act continue in it's role of "safety net" by providing these lifesaving services to all individuals in need, regardless of where they live.
HIV/AIDS remains a life threatening infectious disease and a significant public health emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one million people in the United States are living with HIV, including more than 405,000
with AIDS. Approximately 211,000 individuals need antiretroviral treatment but have no means to access them. Over 1,900 people languish on AIDS drug assistance program waiting lists around the country. The Institute of Medicine estimates that over 314,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the United States lack consistent care and treatment. Meanwhile, the demand for services grows steadily. Each year, more than 40,000 new infections occur in the United States;1,600 of those in Illinois. More than 30,000 AIDS cases and over 16,400 deaths due to AIDS have been reported in Illinois since 1981.
After five years of flat funding and cuts for essential HIV/AIDS prevention and care services, and without a commitment for new funding, the Bush administration proposes to shift significant CARE resources away from hard-hit states to address HIV/AIDS in less populous and rural states.
Rural areas, especially in the South, are struggling against longstanding healthcare access problems, which are exacerbated by increasing rates of HIV in their communities. While all individuals living with HIV/AIDS should have the ability to access quality care and treatment,, disparities in healthcare experienced by poor people in one part of the country should not be addressed at the expense of poor people in another part of the country. Stealing from Peter to pay Paul- and dismantling lifesaving services for vulnerable populations with no other means to access health care- is unacceptable. Illinois will withstand significant cuts in funding and will suffer diminished infrastructure and service capacity should the Bush administration's principles be enacted. Thousands of Illinoisans with HIV/AIDS will face life-threatening gaps in care if the Bush administration's proposal is enacted.
We call on you to provide leadership necessary to ensure that geography does not determine access to essential medical and social services. We call on Congress to increase CARE Act funding by $594 million and to devise a plan to distribute the resources in a way that is fair and equitable to every American living with HIV/AIDS in need of healthcare, rejecting the Bush
administration's faulty principles. We also ask for the maintenance of local control to determine the appropriate mix of vital medical and supportive social services in every jurisdiction that receives funding.
Since it's inception in 1990, the CARE Act has enjoyed strong bipartisan support because of its ability to reach those in greatest need in both urban and rural communities. We look to you to continue the CARE Act legacy by reauthorizing the program, appropriating sufficient funding, and ensuring geographic equity so that Americans with HIV/AIDS-wherever they may live-can receive the rational and cost-effective out-patient services they need to survive.

We then blew into the Windy City.