Response to Peters’ analysis
[Ref: “Claims against Peters unfounded,” Vol. 9, Issue 5, or online at bit.ly/2FvLkCc]
At some point, we as a community are going to have to separate our thoughts and feelings towards the leadership at AHF [AIDS Healthcare Foundation], and our thoughts and feelings towards the very real, life-saving services that AHF provides.
We must also hold fire to the feet of our allies —Congressman Scott Peters included. When I received the social media invitation to the protest, I wanted to learn the reasons why AHF was organizing the protest, but also why a Democratic congressman was supporting a moratorium on a program that has helped so many.
Finding information on AHF’s Michael Weinstein was not difficult. He is not a well-liked man by many within the LGBT and HIV community. Some of what I read about him was disturbing. But I also read about the vital programs and services AHF provides around the nation and around the world.
I also question the reasons the congress member is working with the GOP to co-sponsor a moratorium for the 340B program.
Programs such as 340B provide life-saving and life-sustaining services. There is no doubt that the program works. But like many programs, some will find ways to make it work for their gain.
In this case, Congressman Scott Peters is also questionably making the moratorium work for his gain by accepting large donations from the “Big Pharma.” These are the same companies that will gain massive profits from both ending or pausing the program.
I would encourage everyone to look a little deeper and look at the ramifications that will come as a result of pausing the program.
For starters, it is important to remove ourselves from the context which is the California bubble. In communities and cities throughout California, the moratorium will have little impact.
But when you consider that the South is home to 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest HIV infection rates in the nation, a different picture begins to emerge.
The South also leads the nation for people living with HIV who are unaware they are infected. And over half of the nation’s HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in the South, and half of all new infections are coming from Southern states.
Take Jackson, located in Mississippi — the poorest state in the nation. There, more than 40 percent of self-identified gay or bisexual men are infected with HIV.
And adding insult to injury, the Mississippi Health Department now charges for HIV testing.
When we look at Louisiana, there is one HIV clinic per 640 miles. Think about what that would mean to those in your life who are HIV-positive. By the way – 640 miles is just shy of the entire length of California.
The picture that is painted and the facts and numbers that paint it are staggering to think about. They are also disturbing.
There is no reason why people today should not have access to care. But that is the reality for hundreds of communities across the South, communities that will feel the impacts of the 340B bill that Congressman Scott Peters is co-sponsoring with his GOP cronies.
In many communities across the South, HIV clinics are just now starting to open. But it is not just the South that will be affected. In Austin, Indiana, which just recently was called ground zero for what the CDC determined was an HIV outbreak in the rural Midwest. A new HIV clinic opened and operates twice a week. In Scott County, near the Kentucky border, 71 new HIV cases were linked to injection drug use.
We know that individuals with HIV can live healthy and normal lives when in care. We know that newly infected people who are put on medication quickly will achieve undetectable levels almost immediately. We know that they will live longer lives than those who didn’t go on medication soon after infection.
Under Congressman Scott Peter’s 340B proposed moratorium, new clinics in the areas that need them the most will have to wait at least two years to access 340B. Individuals there will have much greater difficulty accessing the very medications and care that can be the difference between life or death.
As a gay man, with many friends and loved ones who are living with and a few who have died, I find it vile, repulsive, and insulting that Congressman Scott Peters isn’t thinking about the lives that will be affected, and instead he is only thinking about numbers. He should be fighting to fix and expand the program — not putting the program on moratorium.
Now don’t get me wrong, the program has its flaws, and those flaws need to be addressed. But Congressman Peters should stand up and fight for the program in light of President Trump’s threats to dismantle it. He shouldn’t be co-sponsoring a bill with the GOP to pause the program, he should be leading the charge to protect vulnerable communities that depend on the access to the program.
There is no reason why a fix should come at the expense of rural Midwest and Southern communities and individuals – some who will have to drive 640 miles for medication and services.
His support of this bill is shameful.
Congressman Scott Peters was elected to fight for Californians, not for Big Pharma. He needs to step up and work towards expanding services and care, not limiting or restricting services by adding costly reporting or worse – limiting the expansion of services – where they are needed the most.
—Eddie Reynoso, via email
Morgan M. Hurley’s departure
[Ref: It’s just so long … not goodbye,” Vol. 9, Issue 5, or online at bit.ly/2FvLkCc]
You’ll be missed dearly! It’s been an honor for you to be my editor in some capacity since 2009!
—Benny Cartwright, via gay-sd.com
Well then, so long Morgan until we meet again. You have done a great job at the helm. It is a pleasure to know you and work with you in the community. Best regards in whatever you do next. David and Luke.
—Luke Terpstra, via gay-sd.com
Morgan, thanks so much for being a fierce defender of our community, for highlighting the fun, the inspirational and the deeply moving events and people. We will miss your wit, intelligence and charm on the pages of our favorite paper! Welcome too, Albert… you have some big shoes to fill, lucky for you!
—Elizabeth Hannon, via gay-sd.com
Such the eulogy! What a martyr for having “experienced the negative side of our community.” How many years later, she’ll still be defending herself for printing the “sero-sorting” op-ed. Thank the gods she was there to revive “a then-dormant dialogue,” (never to be ‘dialogued’ again.) So very cool the new editor has been found “in house” and has already been “trained.” Expecting the best! With all the thanks Ms. Morgan deserves.
—Kevin, via gay-sd.com
Congrats. Onward and upward. Love you, Morgan M. Hurley. Thanks for telling OUR stories.
—Sue Hartma, via gay-sd.com
We are a better community thanks to your good work and stewardship of our printed voice. Thank you, Morgan.
—Bob Lehman, via gay-sd.com
— Letters to the editor are encouraged. We pull them from email, Facebook, and comments left on articles on our website. If you’d wish to send a letter to the editor directly, email email@example.com.