Ode to the resurrected
recently in the us , powerful new aids drugs called protease inhibitors have been reported to reduce the lethal virus in the blood of an hiv-positive person. Instead of planning a funeral, the patient can now very well look forward to an exciting future and a more paying job.
A year and a half ago, a 49-year-old man named Robert, could not think of anything else other than the inevitable death that stared him in the face. His skin had become infected with festering pimples that refused to heal and his weight had nosedived. But around early May, he was up around looking robust and healthy, and pondering three job offers.
"It's like being resurrected," said Robert, who spoke on the condition that his identity should be revealed only partially as he feared that prospective employers had misconceptions about aids ."I feel like a child," he enthused. Robert, like several other aids patients, had been attending seminars sponsored by the Gay Men's Health Crisis ( gmhc ), the largest aids service agency in the us .
Even as agencies like the gmhc continue to assist ailing clients who do not have access to the life-prolonging systems or have failed to benefit by them, they try hard to keep the flame of hope burning for countless people like Robert. They are starting new classes to discuss how to tackle regained health, how to return to the workplace and the rights of hiv-infected employees.
The shifting role of the aids agencies has now become a touchy subject for service providers. There are still many unknowns about the new drugs, like how long they will remain effective. As lower income minorities rather than white middle class gay men have become the prime target of aids , racial tension have built up over the role the aids agencies ought to play. "There is an absolute need to help those who are now finding themselves healthier," said Mario Cooper, the founder of the agency Leading for Life, and board member of the Harvard aids Institute and the gmhc . "But at the same time, the majority of those with hiv , increasing amounts of people with colour, have absolutely no access to anything..." she added.
Regarding the availability of protese inhibitors as a new lease of life, Linda Campbell, executive director of the Minority Task Force on aids - the oldest minority aids service in New York -says that is premature for some. "Many of our clients have been unemployed for long periods of time and because of despair and issues of inequity, have turned to drugs as a way of dealing with the horrors of everyday life," said Campbell. "...we still have to think about what supports the people out of the mainstream have. What does their future look like? What is the promise of the future for our clients, given the realities of how the local, state and federal governments are now rolling back their commitment to social support," said Campbell.
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