AIDS Watch 2017

“I was homeless, using drugs and alcohol and not compliant with my medications. Through Ryan White services, I was able to get housing support, substance abuse treatment and medication adherence support. I’ve been clean and sober for 12 years and give back to the community by volunteering.”

“I was homeless and couldn’t take my medications. HOPWA provided me with housing support, now I have a job and am adherent to my medications. I am lucky enough to work in the field of HIV and help others like me.”

“I had a job but was late all the time because I wasn’t feeling well and got fired. I was then tested for HIV and found out that I was positive. I was able to receive the support and medical care I needed to live successfully with HIV.  My HIV status has been undetectable for 15 years, I’m married to a man who is HIV negative and am living a full life.”

These are some of the stories that Hyacinth carried to our legislators on March 27th and 28th as part of AIDS Watch, a federal HIV/AIDS lobbying event. Axel Torres Marrero, Senior Director of Public Policy and Kathy Ahearn-O’Brien, Executive Director, traveled with 10 individuals infected/affected by HIV and visited with most of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, including senior legislative staff from Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez’ offices.

This year our asks included continued funding for Ryan White programs, protection of Medicaid for our clients, increased funding for housing programs; funding for comprehensive sexual health education, decriminalization of HIV, and continued funding for HIV prevention and research.

Hyacinth is grateful for the continued support from our Congressional delegation. While we may not agree on all issues, most of our elected representatives recognize the need for Ryan White and HOPWA programs. We must stay vigilant, though, particularly around issues relative to Medicaid so that we can protect health care for all New Jerseyans living with HIV.

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