As Congressional Republicans on the Hill slash government spending and attempt to reverse Obama’s health care reform, HIV advocates call cuts to AIDS funding and services “the real death panels.” Meanwhile, a scrappy group of activists from Ohio goes toe-to-toe with national lawmakers, including Ohio’s own John Boehner, the freshly minted Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives. Ohio’s HIV-positive community’s fight to save the state’s ADAP program, and their lives, may well set the standard for battles to come nationwide.
As Ohio goes, it is said, so goes the nation. Ohio has long signaled the outcome of U.S. politics; it has only voted for the losing presidential candidate twice since 1896. The state has been on the forefront in other areas too: The Wright Brothers first experimented with flight at their Dayton bicycle shop. Akron was the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous and rubber tires. And Ohio was the first destination for many escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad. Today, it could serve as a bellweather for the AIDS funding crisis in America: As we go to press, Ohio has nearly a thousand HIV-positive people unable to access care.
Ohio is also the home of the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, a Republican. He’s known for breaking into tears publicly over issues like the war in Iraq, working-class heroes and the passing of the gavel, and now there is talk about why the GOP leader is not shedding tears for his constituents living with HIV.
Click here to read the full feature in POZ magazine’s March issue.