Mayor Angel Taveras told the nearly 3000 of us gathered in Providence, RI, for Netroots Nation 2012: “It’s an honor to have the most progressive minds in the country here.” The Daily Kos-founded convention features booths ranging from C-Span, OutServe, BlogAds, AFER and hundreds more. I spoke with Planned Parenthood/Planned Parenthood Votes President Cecile Richard about Hivster’s mission and was encouraged with her enthusiasm and support for our cause. It’s been inspiring speaking with so many other determined conference-goers about their causes at the many panels hosted on issues like; marriage equality, trans empowerment through blogging, Occupy Wall Street, winning the war on women, battleground state caucuses and many, many more. Elizabeth Warren, Darcy Burner, Van Jones and Paul Krugman are among some of the keynote speakers. This meeting of movers and shakers is immensely important and lays out what causes, issues and campaigns the progressive movement will champion in the coming year. Inexplicably HIV/AIDS is nowhere to be seen.
1.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with HIV since its brutal onslaught in June of 1981. Left largely ignored by Reagan, progressive and ‘radical’ queers blew up, rallied and made this a progressive issue. Well over half a million people like my uncle and his partner, both of whom I never had a chance to meet, have died. The disastrous failures of the 80′s and 90′s left the queer community’s identity in shambles, leaving haunting memories that are only now beginning to fade. As we’ve risen out of the shadows, progressives celebrate the huge accomplishments being made in treatment and awareness while one is five gay men are HIV positive and nearly half don’t know it. There are nearly 5000 people in 12 states waiting for lifesaving medication. Men and women are dying because pharmaceuticals companies are allowed to charge astronomically high prices for antiviral medication. HIV/AIDS is a progressive issue, period. And at a conference like Netroots Nation 2012, where every progressive issue under the Sun is covered — HIV/AIDS is shamefully unrepresented. I see this as a failure, a failure on all of us progressive leaders. Leaders who should be fighting this fight just as hard as we are with marriage equality or breaking down Wall Street– which has ravaged this country just as the disease is ravaging people all across this country.
Hivster.com would like to set up a impromptu discussion, joining with other HIV/AIDS organizations, activists, bloggers and other concerned conference goers. Contact us @Hivster or at email@example.com