How will the candidates address HIV/AIDS?
Wednesday night, members of the community gathered at Eastern Market for the DC Fights Back Mayoral Forum. Leo Alexander, Sulaimon Brown, Vincent Gray, and Ernest Johnson were in attendance to discuss the epidemic infection rate of HIV/AIDS in the District.
DC Fights Back Organizer and VP of Housing Works, Christine Campbell, explained: “DC Fights back is a group of volunteers, fighting for access to housing, treatment and the amplifying the strong voice of people living with HIV and AIDS.”
Founded in 2005 before the city was classified as an epidemic, they’ve spent the past 6 months scaling their national plan for solving HIV and AIDS down to DC.
Despite the complexities of fighting HIV and AIDS, DC Fights Back argues that ultimately, the easiest solution is housing. It would cost $8.5 million to get the 600 people off of the HIV/AIDS Housing Waiting list – a relatively small number, given the cost of providing services.
Most of the room had worked on HIV/AIDS issues, many had lost someone, and a handful had ID themselves at living with HIV or AIDS, conveying the sobering reality that HIV/AIDS can effect anyone.
Here are brief summaries of what the candidates had to say on HIV/AIDS, and if elected, what they would do to solve the problems surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Alexander: Asked why there is no level 1 trauma center east of the river. He called for more sex education in our schools, and proposed putting condoms in every public bathroom where alcohol is served. Mr. Alexander also said that everyone should get tested routinely, and will get himself tested and publicly announce his test results.
Gray: Stated that education is key to reducing the HIV/AIDS and that there is no “sure fire way” to reach the young people who need to be reached. Gray’s platform boiled down to education, testing, counseling, and treatment. Also, Gray stressed the need to support a needle exchange program in DC.
Johnson: Understanding the need for urgent action, he cited routine testing as a must for all DC residents, as well as providing coverage for these tests. Johnson also sent a message to the youth, saying that young people matter and we care about protecting their future.
Brown: Having lost a brother to HIV/AIDS, Brown sees HIV/AIDS as a top priority. He suggests that we need to have proper oversight of funding for HIV/AIDS programs, and would like to see Marion Barry’s Youth Institute Program brought back to educate youth.
All in all, DC Fights back held a meaningful and informative forum last night, and we are proud to call them our allies in the continuing fight on poverty through their work on HIV/AIDS.
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