Guest Blog: Make it Grow to Save My Life

By Rob Banaszak on September 23, 2011 in Access2Care

Hydeia Broadbentby Hydeia Broadbent, HIV/AIDS activist

Who would believe in 2011 with so many advancements in the HIV/AIDS world we would still be at a place where people living with HIV/AIDS are getting the quality healthcare they deserve?

After a positive HIV test result many are told there is indeed hope and that HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was. Then comes the
reality that yes, there is hope, but you might not have access to that hope, well unless you have the right access to the right care at the right time.

For those who may not know me I was born HIV positive, with full blown AIDS by the age of 3- that was in 1987. The late 80′s was very dark time for
people living with AIDS, people were dying at an alarming rate- there was no hope for you if you had AIDS. My parents were told I would not live pass
the age of 5. But thanks to clinical trials for new medications I am still alive 23 years later.

At a very young age, I saw countless friends lose their lives to AIDS despite fighting everyday to stay alive. We all put ourselves through hell for a
chance at hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for life and we did this not just for ourselves but for others to have a better future living with
AIDS.

We have come a very long way, in 2011 AIDS truly does not have to be a death sentence; we are in a day and age when a woman living with AIDS can give
birth to a child of her own without passing HIV unto her unborn child. We are in a time where there is hope and a person living with AIDS can live a
long and fruitful life. However, that hopeful and fruitful life depends on your ability to access quality healthcare. Would you believe that in 2011,
for a variety of complicated reasons, some American people still haven’t accessed the physicians and mental health support professionals they need to help deal with their HIV-positive status?

I continue to deal with the scare of not knowing if there will come a time when I won’t have access to the care that I need. That is a scare I wish on
no one, the fear of not knowing. The fear of feeling like your county, our health system has somehow failed you, the horrible feeling that your
neighbor is too busy to pay attention to what is going on and showing they don’t care. The horrible feeling that no one hears your plea for help, the
plea to help you stay alive. No one should go to sleep worrying about not having access to quality healthcare they need to stay alive. If I said I
wasn’t stressed or haven’t cried because of a little fear and doubt, I would be lying.

But through it all, I’ve been able to pull myself together and get a grip. I became proactive, I stopped stressing and started researching on what to
do next. I found out so many others living with HIV/AIDS are facing the same reality I faced. As I talked with others dealing with my reality we all asked
the same question: Why have so many people not living with HIV/AIDS turned their backs on us? This is America, the land of the free, the home of the brave,
we fight for the fair treatment of so many others, civil rights and human rights, but when it comes to access for care for those living with HIV/AIDS
we have turned a blind eye.

So what you can do? There are many ways for you to get involved. Something as simple like calling your local U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to
increase funding for programs like Part D of the Ryan White Care Act or to support health care reform, which will help increase access to care for
people living with HIV/AIDS. Share how you are supporting the HIV/AIDS community through your own personal and professional networks and through social
media. Donate to programs like AIDS United’s Make it Grow campaign. Efforts like Make it Grow work to create a lasting and systemic change in
communities most affected by the AIDS epidemic. Improving health outcomes and strengthening local service systems is key to connecting people living
with HIV/AIDS to the lifesaving care they need.

I’m often amazed at how such simple acts can help save a life- they continue to save mine.

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