February 22, 2013 | by Dave Purdy
2nd wave of AIDS epidemic is coming

With last week’s news that the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), the world’s first AIDS organization, would be no more, I feel strongly this marks only the beginning. The second wave of AIDS is coming.

AIDS organizations are about to go through a major restructuring, both in the United States and around the world. In the United States, sadly, it’s because we no longer are taking care of our own.

Funds are frighteningly scarce during these hard economic times. Corporations that in the past have helped fight the disease must be made aware how critically necessary their funds are — and that the need is immediate. Usually the big dogs win; the smaller ones get the scraps.   This includes the AIDS organization in my hometown of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

What’s both amazing as well as tragic is that across our nation the “new” measure of success is the number of HIV-positive clients who maintain an undetectable viral load. The national average is around 25 percent. My hometown AIDS organization, OASIS, reports a viral suppression of almost 80 percent. However, OASIS is about to close its doors due to lack of funds. Sadly, it appears success does not guarantee continued funding. On the contrary. In this case, good work and excellent results are met with, “Who cares if you are a beacon of how to do it right? Close your doors and turn in the keys.”

NAPWA used to be a big dog, but became so thin and frail it was starved to death. Why was the voice of people living with HIV and AIDS silenced? Why was the helping hand cut off?

If the AIDS communities in the United States and in other nations do not come together — and work together — to win the war against AIDS, then the second wave of this epidemic is inevitable.

The inevitability of the second wave is not always apparent because many of us are too scared to look at what’s staring us in the face. Others are too frightened to admit this could happen. But it can and, unless the current course of funding is changed, it will.

AIDS’ second wave will come in phases. The first phase will be an increase in positive HIV test results. In other words, when the hidden epidemic does appear, it will show itself as full-blown AIDS.

The second phase will attack an aging HIV population who, because of drug resistance, can no longer benefit from the medications currently keeping them alive. These drugs work for them today, but will they tomorrow? Do we want a repeat of the ‘80s and ‘90s? Unfortunately, it’s happening every day. We just don’t want to talk about it.

The third phase centers on pharmaceutical companies, which are repackaging old drugs rather than creating new ones. In addition, fewer companies are focusing on AIDS drugs research and many are dropping out. Remember, when persons living with HIV become resistant to a class of drugs, that’s it. They must find other ones – that is, if any are available.

The AIDS epidemic has been around for almost 32 years, and the number of HIV-positive cases in the United States has not decreased. Worldwide, we can expect the number to grow, as some countries are performing fewer HIV tests and many have stopped altogether. Why?  Because if a patient tests positive, ethics and morals require treatment.

Fact: Overall funding for HIV in the United States and globally has gone down. Yet, people testing positive for HIV in the United States is increasing. Worldwide, the United Nations claims, the number testing positive for HIV is decreasing – but the U.N. neglects to point out that’s probably because fewer tests are conducted.

Today, there are more than 10 million people worldwide in need of life-saving AIDS drugs.

Let’s look at the second wave another way. We now know that being on AIDS drugs stops the spread of HIV by more than 96 percent. Let’s assume that one-fourth of the 10 million people worldwide who are not on treatment are having unprotected sex. Are they spreading the disease?  Damn right. So let’s go ahead and add another 2.5 million people to that 10 million. Then repeat the calculations with more than a quarter million people in the United States who aren’t aware they’re HIV positive. They are spreading the disease further.

We’re not taking care of our own. There is infighting and disorganization, made worse by a lack of cohesiveness and focus. When the second wave is upon us, we will have only ourselves to blame.

I’m not sure how many more closings of AIDS organizations I can handle. It’s just too painful.

  • NAPWA failed because of leadership that was unable and unwilling to reach out to the wider HIV community. They failed to operate in an open and transparent manner. They became a “Club” rather than an advocacy organization.

    The National Minority AIDS Council is headed down the same path as evidenced by their refusal to publicly disclose IRS form 990′s, Audits and annual reports. They had a net loss of close to a million dollar last year. Here is a link to info about the pending NMAC debacle ( http://usahiv.com )
    We will continue to see more “death’s” of AIDS organizations until we become re-energized and demand accountability and transparency.

  • Heather Rose Romano

    Write a petition or something…send it to the White House. The president has made it clear that he cares for the AIDS Awareness. I just don't want these organizations to close… :-/

  • I still stand by quote on the blog listed below. It’s also the HIV community’s fault that they have become complacent and let these organizations do what they do.

    As a longtime advocate, I have now come to the conclusion that some in the HIV community have a sense of entitlement which shouldn’t be the case. For those folks, they will never become active until they start enduring cuts. This is dangerous but it is the truth. Like it or not.”
    And there we are.


  • Dave, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one seeing the beginning of a second wave. Great article and hope to see more of your articles.

  • Keep writing about AIDS and try to write articles about how people are living positive with AIDS. I may be one of the few exceptions but that is also beause I refused to let the stigma of being HIV-positive mess up my life. My name is Richard Brodsky and I’m President of the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) public charity. I’m HIV+ since 1997, a brain cancer survivor since 2002, and a marathon runner for life. I’m 60 years young. My last 6 marathons (except for the January 27, 2013 ING Miami Marathon which I ran with posterior tibial tendonitis in my left leg) have been my fastest since my terminal cancer diagnosis. I think that people, even those living with HIV and cancer can reverse their aging process.

    CBS Miami featured only 1 story of 25,000 runners and they featured my story, http://miami.cbslocal.com/video/8249309-thousands-take-to-streets-of-downtown-miami-for-ing-marathon/.

    The Richard M. Brodsky Foundation, http://www.richardmbrodsky.org, has also sponsored 7 World AIDS Marathons in Kisumu, Kenya, on World AIDS Day and has sponsored 13 orphan dinner dances for 4,350 Kenyan orphans since 2006. For the past 2 years we have brought an American pediatrician, Dr. Richard Sartori with us to Africa and he has provided medicine and examined and treated 136 Kenyan orphans. President Obama’s grandmother has been involved with the Event since 2008. The Foundation also sponsors two 5K AIDS Cancer Run Walks, http://www.5kaidscancer.com, in America every year, one of the Events is FREE for everyone and the other Event is Free for people living with HIV or cancer. If you would like to be a sponsor, participant or volunteer, kindly contact me.

    You can also view a book I wrote titled, Richard Brodsky’s Journey of Hope, http://www.richardmbrodsky.org/images/journey%20of%20hope.pdf.

    • I too am HIV positive 16 years as of February 14,2013, I am a Mother,Daughter Sister and Grandmother and the hardest for me has been the stigma, it is very lonely for a white women and hard to find support, until we educate and put a face to HIV our fight in stopping the spread of hiv will continue to be a never ending fight. Invisible girl friends make the news and we have advertisement on what is available to better and last longer sex, yet we don't talk about or advertise how to help in the spread of hiv.

  • I agree with David we are treating our poz peeps like an enemy and HIV orgs have become lazy. Companies see the infighting and think I'm not donating funds to that group. HIV is The Money Machine.

  • I guess Uganda..my mother land will be grounded going by your analysis.

  • Perhaps the fault is partly with the organizations who've failed to adapt to the changes in the psyche of HIV/AIDS. Many of these organizations were started in crisis mode but have not moved away from that mode. I have had HIV since 1983. My first thought when I saw NAPWA had filed for bankruptcy was "They're still around.". They made themselves irrelevant ages ago. Organizations are not meant to exist in perpetuity. Someone or several someones will come along when needed to fill the current needs.

  • I am a Mother, Daughter, Sister and Grandmother living with hiv for 16 years, I believe until we put a face to hiv and correct the stigma that comes along with living with hiv, I know I can not be the only white M.D.S.G. Living with hiv, yet I have met only 1 white women in 16 years. We can talk about how to have better and longer sex on tv and make headline news and every talk show wants to talk about invisible girl friend. I think if we bring back awareness like we did in the 80'S and put faces of people just like them but living with hiv, I still get the question how did a girl like you get hiv, my reply is from a tall white handsome man on February 14th 1997. AWARENESS, EDUCATION, TESTING IS WHAT WILL HELP IN THE SPREAD OF HIV. THANKS FROM A M.D.S.G. LIVING WITH HIV.

    • I am a mother, daughter and sister who has been living with hiv for 7 years now. Thanks to new drugs and treatment I was able to fulfill my dream of being a mother. Now I am currently pregnant with my 4th child and all of my children have come out negative. It scares me to think that funding is being cut because there are so many out there that need including myself. I have tried to put my face out there but there is a stigma in my community and they don't accept so the ones around me who I can educate with out have stones thrown at me I do. If more people would open their minds and stop with stereotyping people things would be alot better.

  • NAPWA failed because of recurrent mismanagement & misconceptions regarding it's own agenda. Many goo people did excellent work while there. However, most of them left frustrated or were driven out over the years. It hadn't really been "napwa" for a long, long time.

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