Showing posts with label Pennsylvania. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pennsylvania. Show all posts

Tell Pease to stop picking our pockets!

Email State AIDS Director Joseph Pease

People living with HIV and AIDS in Pennsylvania have lost more that fifteen million dollars under State AIDS Director Joseph Pease's watch. Pease's office did not apply for a four million dollar National Minority AIDS Initiative grant (because they would have had to work over the weekend). His office also returned eleven million dollars of AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding to the federal government because they failed to spend the money. Returning federal money means that, for the next several years, our award will be eleven million dollars less than it should be, because the government thinks we don't need the money. So that's $15 million that people with HIV in Pennsylvania need and will never get back!

Check out our YouTube video of our trip to Harrisburg here:

Now, click here to email Joseph Pease and tell him that People with HIV in Pennsylvania deserve better!

We've got the State AIDS Director on the run...

...or does he just really need to get his teeth cleaned?

ACT UP went to Harrisburg to confront State AIDS Director Joseph Pease as he welcomed folks to a Ryan White funding conference. We were planning to call him out in front of his bosses and constituents for returning $11 million that was supposed to go to Pennsylvanians with HIV/AIDS, and failing to apply for an addition $4 million... because that would have required working on the weekend! Pathetic excuse...

So we show up, all business casual with fancy fliers and a speech prepared, and Mr. Joseph Pease is (once again?) AWOL -- citing a dentist appointment (Really? You schedule a dentist appointment the morning you're supposed to welcome your colleagues and federal grantmakers to a big conference?)

We think it's time for Joseph Pease to meet with those he's accountable to and answer to this:

Press coverage of AIDS activist's funeral procession at the G20

It looks like most of the local news and the Associated Press picked up the real story here: that unless rich G20 nations commit to the fight against global AIDS, provide universal access to treatment, and meet their obligations to the Global Fund millions will die of AIDS (a preventable, treatable disease!)

Click any photo below to see a larger version.

Here is some press coverage and some more photos and video:

WDUQ (NPR) - AIDS Group Marches On -
Philly Inquirer - G-20 Shows Off Reinvented City -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Demonstrations Begin in Earnest -
Duquesne University Duke - AIDS Activists march in 'funeral procession' -
ABC Pittsburgh (WTAE) - G20 AIDS March winds through downtown -
ABC Pittsburgh (WTAE) Video -
NBC Pittsburgh (WPXI) - AIDS Activists hold 'funeral' protest downtown -
Fox 43 Harrisburg (AP) - AIDS protesters carry wreaths, march behind coffins to urge G-20 funding of global initiatives -,0,5369359.story
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Groups march downtown against AIDS, coal mining -
CBS Pittsburgh (KDKA) - Protesters demonstrate as G20 approaches -
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Activists, police clash in court over feeding protest groups -
Philadelphia (?) Examiner - G-20 Summit protesters stage funeral procession for those that will die of AIDS -
RH Reality Check - G20 Coverage: Funeral Procession for HIV and AIDS funding -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Video - AIDS Activists Protest -
AP/Reuters Photos (first 12) -
Daily Motion (video) - G20 AIDS funeral march -
RH Reality Check - What was said at the G20 demo on HIV and AIDS funding -
MSNBC - G20 AIDS March affects Bus Routes, Traffic Today -
U-Wire - AIDS Activists march in 'funeral procession', demand G20 leaders' attention -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette G20 blog - Why I'm joining the funeral procession 9/22, 2pm, Grant and Liberty -

AP Story also carried:
- R&D Mag -
- Lehigh Valley Live -
- York Daily Record -
- WFMJ -
- CBS 3 Philadelphia -
- NE PA Times-Leader -
- Taiwan News -
- WYTV -

YIKES! Big cuts on the table in the Pennsylvania Budget

Things have been really busy at ACT UP these days... it's budget season, not to mention we're gearing up for a big housing campaign.

Some quick updates: we're collecting and crunching the numbers on hundreds of housing surveys we've collected, we've been meeting with AIDS and housing activists in Philadelphia and thinking about needs and strategies, and we've been doing tremendous research (some documented on this blog) about how housing is funded and who makes housing decisions in Philadelphia.

Not to mention we've been strategizing about how to respond to the cuts and flat-funding of AIDS treatment and prevention services that are on the table in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Federal Budgets.

Here's the update on the state budget. While most money spent on HIV/AIDS in Pennsylvania is federal, the state has two budget items related to AIDS. The first is for AIDS medicine, which, thank goodness, is not being cut (it's being maintained at previous years' levels).

The second is money that is, according to the state, used to fund "a coordinated strategy to prevent and change high-risk behaviors and provide resources and direction for sustaining preventive behavior and avoiding infection with HIV....The program includes on-site training, both print and electronic public information services, community intervention projects for at-risk populations and the provision of care, case management and supportive services for persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Confidential and anonymous HIV testing and partner notification services are also provided at over 500 sites statewide."

Governor Rendell and the House of Representatives proposed maintaining current funding levels at 10 million dollars, as they have been in the last couple of years. Of course, we'd like to see increases in the funding, to combat rising infection rates and unmet needs. But it gets worse... the Senate is proposing CUTTING THIS FUND BY 25%.

That would mean drastic cuts or even closure of agencies providing prevention and support services like HIV testing, counseling, and personal care.

Fortunately, it's not too late to prevent these cuts -- the House of Representatives and Senate will get together to hammer out the differences in their proposed budgets, and the Governor then has to approve the joint proposal.

You can help them make the right decision by contacting your State Representatives and Senators, and Governor Rendell, and asking them to reject the cuts proposed by the Senate.

You can find their contact information at

More Budget Fun...

I spent the afternoon trying to gather information about where the money that supports Philadelphians Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) comes from.

For my messy first draft of an organizational/funding chart, check out these two links:
Housing Money and Authority in Philadelphia:
Office of Housing and Community Development Funding and Programs in Philadelphia:

I also spent some quality time with federal, state, and local budgets. Here's what I've figured out:

1) Good(ish) news on the local level: if Mayor Nutter gets what he wants from the state (permission to raise the sales tax and put off paying into the pension fund) he will probably be able to maintain current levels of shelter beds and other housing programs.

2) Bad news on the local level: the Mayor's budget includes fees for accessing the formerly free city health clinics. All the available research tells us this means fewer people will use the clinics, and emergency room visits will go up while public health goes down. Guess who pays for the much more expensive emergency room visits (hint: it's not the city!)

3) Bad news on the state level: The recession has hit the state hard. While they're going to maintain a lot of important health and human services funding, HIV/AIDS programs are being flatlined (no increase) or even cut. The only exceptions are a $12,000 increase for the state's contribution to HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS) and a possible increase for the state's contribution to Ryan White funds (it's hard to tell, because it looks like one program has been split into two). Source:

4) Bad news on the federal level: President Obama has flatlined HOPWA. I think that the program will have to make cuts, because I think their obligations (stuff they have to pay for) is going to go up, and they aren't getting the funding to cover it. This is really bad news for AIDS housing, and coming at a time when there's all this exciting evidence showing that housing is as important as medicine for AIDS treatment, and really important to prevention, too. Of course, grassroots AIDS activists have known this since the beginning of the crisis...

5) OK news on the federal level: Ryan White funds (which, as far as I can tell, is where most of the non-housing money for PLWHA comes from) have gotten a small increase, though it's definitely not what we asked for...

6) Good news on the federal level (finally!): HUD (Housing and Urban Development) got 4 billion dollars ($4,000,000,000) to build new housing through the stimulus. Some of that money is specifically for people with disabilities, which includes people with HIV/AIDS. So our state and local governments can use the money to build more AIDS housing.

And finally, a question: does Philadelphia use Pennsylvania's Homelessness Assistance Program money. If so, what city department uses it, and how?