Rosehedge/Multifaith Works Blog

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gesture of Gratitude

Yesterday I had the honor of meeting our CareTeam partner for the first time. Since our CareTeam is brand new, I was the first one to meet him. I was a bit nervous, because I knew there might be language difficulties, and I wanted him to feel the love and support that our whole team has for him.

The time was delightful! We did fine talking a mix of Spanish and English (very poor Spanish on my part), and accomplished our mission: a trip to the grocery store for much needed items.

We made our way through Fred Meyer, he with his walker and portable oxygen tank, and me following dutifully behind with the cart, as he picked out each thing he needed. When we got to the produce section, as he was picking out tomatoes & onions, I noticed the beautiful sweet potatoes (and remembered that we were out at home), and told him I was going to grab a few.

Grocery list tackled, we headed to the checkout stands. I loaded his items onto the belt, then grabbed a divider and plopped my sweet potatoes on next. Our partner looked over and immediately said "No, no - they are together." I had to blink back the tears as I realized that this man, who has so little, was making such a gesture of gratitude by paying for my groceries along with his own. It was one of those moments when I got to remember the truth that when we give, we almost always receive back far more than we contribute.

I have a feeling that our CareTeam, eight great people from Overlake Christian Church, are going to discover that it is going to be difficult to "out give" our CarePartner, because we have so much to learn and to receive in our efforts to reach out in compassion to those who suffer.

Linda, a new CareTeam Member

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Increasing Prices, Increasing Stress

In a season of economic instability, budget cuts, and threats of a government shutdown people at the margins of our society – poor, living with HIV/AIDS - are often the first to feel the hit. Since I have been working at Rosehedge/Multifaith Works I have witnessed the cut of more and more supportive services that help maintain the physical and emotional health of our clients. Housing, transportation, and mental health programs are vital components of a healthy life for the men and women we serve. Dismantling any one piece of the network of care can cause many to experience great anxiety and upset the balance they need to survive.

Recently, Gilead Sciences Inc. announced that they will raise the prices of several of its top selling HIV medications Atripla (5.1%), Turvada, and Emtriva (7.9%). “Price increases like the ones Gilead announced — on top of 2009 and 2010 increases— are unreasonable, particularly in light of the fact that Atripla, Truvada and Emtriva are older drugs that contain no new formulations,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Such increases do harm to already strained programs such as Medicare and contribute to medical inflation—which is already ballooning. With only a 2% rise in inflation last year, there simply is no justification for these most recent increases.”

Our clients seldom have other options for affordable medications. Their physical and emotional health is often at the hand of the drug manufacturers. When businesses, governments, and individuals make decisions that threaten those in need it is incumbent upon those of us who can to raise our voices in opposition.                                 

Bertram Johnson, CareTeam Program Director

Friday, May 6, 2011

U.S. Senate to consider historic AIDS housing resolution

Eleven senators are backing a resolution that recognizes the key role housing plays in preventing and treating AIDS.

The resolution, S. 162, was introduced Wednesday and is sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Its co-sponsors are Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Al Franken (D-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

The resolution’s introduction is a small step toward a larger victory for those who view housing as a critical tool to fighting HIV/AIDS. A year ago, the House passed the same resolution.

A document passed by both legislative houses would be “not just historic, but strategic,” said Nancy Bernstine, executive director of the National AIDS Housing Coalition. Armed with a piece of paper stating that it is the will of both the House and the Senate to make housing a priority, advocates have additional credibility when they ask politicians to devote funds to AIDS housing.

The resolution “expresses the sense of the Senate that stable and affordable housing is an essential component of an effective strategy for the prevention, treatment, and care of human immunodeficiency virus, and that the United States should make a commitment to providing adequate funding for the development of housing as a response to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pandemic.”

For years, studies have shown links between homelessness and HIV infection. According to the resolution, 70 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS report an experience of homelessness or housing instability during their lifetime.

The next step, Bernstine said, is for Menendez to gather additional co-sponsors. The bill will then go through the committee process—and hopefully make it to the floor for a vote.