AIDS Wlak Austin – Cuts, Cuts & More Cuts

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cross-posted at Daily Kos & Texas Kaos

Hi. I'm raising money for AIDS Walk Austin, which benefits AIDS Services of Austin and several other agencies like the David Powell Clinic, the Wright House Wellness clinic, and others. This is the diary where I'm going to tell you the bad news — why this fundraiser is so necessary & why I set my goal so high ($5,000).

First, this news from a CBS article — people with HIV can live longer than before, but at a cost of over $600,000. There are agencies to help people out, but they have been facing cuts for years, and in this budget environment, things are much, much worse.

If you want to donate without reading all the depressing numbers, here's my donation pageThe scariest thing on the table right now is the proposed $20 million cut to the statewide medication program.

From an Austin American-Statesman article on the cuts:

One option that has worried patient advocates and still looms is closing the Texas AIDS Drug Assistance Program to new patients. Dr. Adolfo Valadez, an assistant commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, said at a meeting of the Texas HIV Medication Advisory Committee that no decisions have been made. His team will work with the committee to contain costs in a program that this year costs $97 million and serves 15,249 Texans.

There is talk of seeking funding from Medicaid, but according to this same article, this does not seem feasable:

Seeking funding from Medicaid is “smoke and mirrors,” said Lynda Blakeslee, grants manager for the David Powell Clinic in Austin, which treats people with HIV and AIDS. David Powell and 19 other CommUnityCare clinics in Travis County will soon test people routinely for HIV and AIDS. Blakeslee said the clinics expect to diagnose 400 people a year systemwide.

“Why would I want to participate in that if I can't offer them medication?” Blakeslee asked the advisory committee.

According to this local news story, thses cuts mean as many as 3,000 people could go without medication. Another possibility is delaying getting people on the program, so they are sicker, and don't have as good outcomes. If you want to help, here's my donation page

Numbers are important, but impersonal. Here are some stories from people about why they walk (warning, the first one will make you cry, it did me):

Why Christine walks:

I have lost two little brothers to AIDS. My youngest died in April of 1992. I lost the second on the morning of last years' AIDS Walk, 10/18/09. Myself and my team did the walk in his memory. I walk for them and anyone who may have AIDS. I walk because I can and to raise money for education about this disease. Join me.

Why Stephanie walks:

Living in the world with no purpose or cause is a devastating way to exist in this world. There are so many people whose lives can be transformed, renewed, and rejuvenated by a simple act. Making a lifestyle out of helping others is a duty that we all can do in our own way… I am at a point in my life that I realize that I need to give more than I receive, that there are so many things that I as an individual can do to help someone, and that by optimizing my potential as a person, others will see the light within my life and be motivated to maximize their potential as well. People helping people–this is what life should be about!! So I walk to support my community, I walk because I can help, and I walk because want my life to be a catalyst for positive change. I am so excited! Join the walk and tell a friend!!—Team SOLE Train

Why Brandi walks:

This reason I do the AIDS Walk is for me, for my son who was born with the disease, for everyone else who has it, and also to show everyone that you don't have to be afraid. Come out and walk for everyone who lives with this in silence. That is why I walk!

Why Stephanie walks:

“I walk because my life has been impacted by addictions from birth. Addictions causing hurt, pain, and turmoil that have lasting impressions.  I have lost many friends to AIDS, know many people living with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS has even reached my family. Although my life was spared, and the chains that bound my family to chemical depenancy that altered behavior and dismissed the ability to think straight have been broken; our lives are still affected forever. In my new life as an HIV/AIDS Pevention Specialist and Counselor, I will give my all to fight/educate/mediate and be passionate to the needs of others impacted by this epedemic 'till the end. 'Till there is a cure. Walk with me.

Why Terri walks:

“My first AIDS Walk Austin was done on a whim that changed my life. I met people there who had been affected by HIV/AIDS and have been involved in the volunteer community ever since. I walk today because I have seen the faces of AIDS, they are many and they are varied, it is something I can do to help.”

Why Jerrol walks:

“I will walk again for my old friend Victor who has gone down the path to the clearing.  I'll walk for my (former) colleagues, Jackie, Michael, Becky, Stewart, John, Susan, Sue, Ben, Joette, Karen, Rindy, Rose, Michelle, and others I have worked with in the past and some I continue to work with.  I love all of you and I want you to know how important I still feel it is to walk for AIDS.  I'll walk for the absolute fun of it – a much needed and welcome emotion at any point in time – but especially now.  I'll walk because I believe in the fight against HIV/AIDS; and I always will!”

Why Meghan walks:

“I walk so people do not forget those who have died from HIV and those who are living with HIV. We still have a great deal of work to do. People are still suffering a great deal from the stigma associated with HIV and we need to continue to raise awareness and educate the community to keep this issue from fading into the background.”

Why Renee M walks:

“I walk for my mom, Vickie, who died 15 years ago, when I was 12 years old. I walk because I am not ashamed. I walk to give and receive support. I walk to raise awareness. I walk for those who can not.”

Why an ASA client walks:

“I walk the AIDS Walk for my life living with AIDS but most of all for my friends who lost their lives to AIDS. We need to find a cure so we can save many lives. Please come walk…”

Why La'Toya walks:

“I walk because I want to help end the stigma of HIV and AIDS. I walk because I am a part of a community being highly affected and infected by this disease. I walk because the community is where education about HIV and AIDS begins. I walk because I have the power to give and meet others who can share their story. I walk because I want to help promote and provide positive outcomes for a disease many see as a negative. I walk because I can.

“I walk because I believe when people come together in huge numbers we make a huge difference. When there is a difference it's because people listened, and when people listen, change happens.”

La'Toya is a Case Manager at AIDS Services of Austin

Why Laura Morrison walks:

“I know personally the importance of AIDS treatment, because it came too late for my brother, Bill. In 1995 Bill was the 26th person from his group of friends to pass away as a result of the AIDS virus.  That same year, the “cocktail” was introduced.  As a result, his good friend John, who had been extremely ill at the time of Bill's death, is thriving today.

“For over 25 years, AIDS Services of Austin has been the heart and soul for those living with HIV and AIDS in Central Texas. By providing ASA funding for services and support, we can help sustain the health and enhance the quality of life for thousands in our community. Please join me and the Laura's Angels team in support of AIDS Services Austin in the 2009 AIDS Walk Austin.”

Laura Morrison is an Austin City Council Member

Why Alisa and Oliver walk:

“Giving back is a core mission of L Style G Style. Building community and creating inclusivity for all generates a more conscious and compassionate city. With so many opportunities to support wonderful organizations, it is events like the AIDS Walk that are near and dear to our hearts.

“The gay and lesbian community has been impacted by friends, family and loved ones who have HIV and AIDS. In honor and support of those we know, we walk proudly for them and invite you to walk alongside us and make the AIDS Walk a huge success!”

Alisa Weldon and Oliver Everette produce L Style G Style

And why do I walk? I walk because I would have trouble counting the number of people I know who are affected by HIV/AIDS. There are people I love dearly who are HIV+ and I want them to have the care and assistance they need. I can't help them all, but AIDS Services of Austin can, so I help ASA. Please – can you do the same? Here's my donation page. I'm really serious about the amount — actually, $5,000 isn't enough, they need so much more. But unless someone out there knows how to approach corporate donors — and please tell me if you do — I'm going to have a big challenge even raising $5,000 in this economy.

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