Friday, June 08, 2007

Update: United Giving a Face to AIDS (in Puerto Rico)

photo by Andres Duque
United Giving a Face to AIDS
Unid@s Dandole Cara al SIDA


Contact: Marcy Lopez 917-673-8649

Today, June 8, 2007, people with HIV/AIDS, elected officials, and community leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York City to demonstrate their support for people with HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico and the organizations that serve them.

“The tragedy of life saving medications not being delivered to people with HIV/AIDS because of government mismanagement, as has been demonstrated in numerous governmental reports and news articles, is inexcusable. We cannot speak for activists in Puerto Rico, but we can demonstrate our support for their demands” said Rosa Colon from Unid@s Dandole Cara al SIDA: New York Chapter.

“Puerto Rican activists are demanding that the Commonwealth and San Juan governments distribute federal funds for AIDS through independent credible third party organizations. They are also seeking an infusion of emergency funds from the Puerto Rican and San Juan governments to address the current life or death reality. Finally they are requesting Congressional oversight hearings and fact-finding as to what has gone so wrong in the way the Commonwealth and San Juan government are delivering health care services to people living with HIV/AIDS and what corrective action should be taken.” said Dennis deLeon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

The poor health conditions in Puerto Rico are causing people with AIDS who have lived in the island to move to the United States. “I was forced to move to New York to receive AIDS medications and medical services. With so many new medications that can prolong life, it really upsets me that my sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico have to live in a situation which will lead to shorter lives. Why do they have to leave to live?” said Mr. Menendez, a patient from Puerto Rico. “If we don't take care of the health care system in Puerto Rico we will then have to take care of our people here as demonstrated by the number of people that United Bronx Parents has flown in from Puerto Rico” said Lorraine Montenegro, Executive Director of United Bronx Parents, Inc.

Also joining in the press conference were representatives from Harm Reduction Coalition, Lower East Side Harm Reduction, Hispanic AIDS Forum, Housing Works, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Citiwide Harm Reduction and Bronx AIDS Services. Puerto Rico has a death due to AIDS of 16.4 per 100,000 compared to the national average of 4.9 per 100,000.

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