AIDS Project Los Angeles is a fantastic organization here. They are the model of an ASO (AIDS Service Organization). But I have one question for my case workers when we meet today. I want to know why they call themselves "Home Health Care" instead of APLA.
I suspect it's because of stigma and the effort to respect the privacy of those they service but it's just a shining example of how the HIV community has further fed the stigma associated with being an HIV or AIDS infected person. Why on earth should the rest of the country deal with the hateful HIV/AIDS epidemic when even those most affected are ashamed to step into the light and demand help.
I desperately wish sometimes that I were a public figure or celebrity with some kind of sizable following. If I were, then my disclosure would make some difference but alas, I am only one obscure person who no one really wants to see or listen to. Proof of this is the fact that many of my friends are now strangers, more or less, and don't like to have to deal with the reality that this nasty virus is out here still killing people. Maybe I am too "out-there" for them. Some of my friends have told me that if they became infected that they either wouldn't want to know or that if they found out they were infected, they wouldn't tell a soul... not even family. When I ask "why?", they tell me they wouldn't risk being stigmatized. Don't they understand that secrecy only proliferates the stigma and validates the shame???
So I meet with my case workers today. These monthly meetings are necessary to maintain my place on the list for services should I ever lose the ability to work, my health insurance or in the event that I need legal help. I know they will again bug me about my yearly TB test and my overdue mammogram. Hopefully they won't suggest a yearly PAP smear (last years' was torture... my equipment is pretty rusty these days) as my PCP doctor is female and none-too-gentle in her use of the speculum.
Interestingly, they send two case workers every month. One asks me all questions related to my physical health. The other asks me questions regarding my mental and emotional health. Both ask about my adherence to my medicine schedule and my current blood-work numbers. Today I will be telling them that my Cholesterol has not improved much, I've managed to wrestle off seven or eight pounds, I have 131 CD4 cells and my viral load is still undetectable. I feel okay, no pains or problems.
My lease is up on my apartment at the end of February so I will have to begin hunting for a more affordable home this weekend. I dread moving and all of it's hassles... utilities and cable to move... deposits to make and change of address cards to fill out. I wish I could stay where I am but the rent is outrageous and I'm tired of living like a pauper just to pay the rent. I'm used to having more disposable income so I can't continue living here.
I'll keep you up-to-date on the home-hunt.
That's it for now,
Enjoy the beautiful weather we're having and have a great Super Bowl Sunday!