On May 5, AIDS activist David Barr wrote a blog (http://blogs.poz.com/davidbarr/) for Poz proposing a bold idea—“In July 2012 the AIDS movement has the opportunity to once again make history and step into the forefront as a leader of a broad coalition to demand the recognition of health care as a human right and to ensure that universal access to health care around the world is the highest priority of our governments and societies. Now is the time.”
David is a global thinker and his vision is global in its scope. I have great respect for such vision, but mine is more limited. I’m a “clean up your own mess first” kind of gal and we have such a mess here in this country. Unfortunately, it appears that we will have to wait and witness the inevitable failure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide most of the benefits it promised. In preparation for that inevitability, there are now single-payer health care bills in Congress and in several states. Now is indeed the time.
As David said, “It is time for people with AIDS to stand up and say that it is not enough to demand HIV treatment for a woman with AIDS in Alabama while her mother is dying of hypertension and her children suffer from asthma.”
There are glimmers of hope provided by the recent uprisings across the country in protest of laws enacted unjustly or illegally. Thousands streamed into state capitols to stand together in all their different “demographics” to peacefully protest. Recall elections are being held. “Average” Americans, usually complacent, politically uninvolved, woke up, and showed up, to peacefully but firmly acknowledge that wrong had been done and they were not going to accept it.
We need to remember that we have a democracy, that we have the right to assemble and protest, and that healthcare is also our right, not a “product” to be bought and sold on Wall Street. It’s time for the Demonstration for Universal Healthcare—DUH. That’s what I’m calling it anyway.
The unanswered questions are abundant—how are we going to organize this? What about a website? Social media? What about permits? Porta-potties? Transportation, food, water, lodging? What about all the different needs of all those people with multitudinous medical conditions? What about media coverage? Signs, banners, megaphones? Security? Surely, planning committees should be formed? But I have to let it go. I have to trust that people will get themselves to Washington, or to other gathering spots, with the supplies, devices, medications, etc. they need to get through the day. Car pools and buses will be arranged; signs will be painted in garages and apartments. It will happen because it must happen.
David called for the HIV/AIDS community to lead. The ability of HIV-positive people to push aside distractions and bureaucracy to get things done is clear. Your courage, experience, and success in overcoming mountainous obstacles are undeniable. The rest of us need that kind of leadership.
David called for one million people to meet him at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on July 22, 2012. We’ve got more than a year, people. The Middle East has their “Arab Spring.” Let’s generate the “Sicko Summer.”—Sue Saltmarsh