kearns announces launch of HAVVACC on national HIV/AIDS & aging awareness day (NHAAAD) at LA city council meeting (long play) (034)[september 22, 2009] good morning president pro tem perry, distinguished council members. i have given the clerk copies of my prepared remarks

my name is richard kearns. i am a 58-year-old gay man living with AIDS for more than 20 years — a long-term survivor & an AIDS activist, a poet and journalist.

i came to city hall this morning

not only to thank the

city council — and particularly council members rosendahl and koretz — for passing a resolution observing National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) (September 18) in Los Angeles,

but also to announce the

launch — with the support of the LA City AIDS Coordinator’s Office — of a new cultural activist’s website, the HIV/AIDS Volunteer Virtual Assisted Care Community ( HAVVACC!

this is from the text of your NHAAAD proclamation — “WHEREAS, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report persons aged 50 and older account for

• 10% of new HIV diagnoses;

• 24% of persons living with HIV;

• 33% of persons living with AIDS;

• 19% of all AIDS diagnoses; and are expected to

• double in prevalence in the national HIV population to a remarkable 60% over the next 5 years;”

I am a Person With AIDS (PWA) over 50. i live in an assisted care institution.

i used to live up in council district 5, until that facility declared a “bedbug infestation” last march (right before the election) and evicted, with less than 24 hours notice, the estimated 130 residents living there, apparently not ever intending to let us back in again. this is not an isolated instance of abuse: throughout the system, we residents are consistently & “structurally” disrespected, commodified, marginalized & dehumanized, valued primarily for our billing income, treating SSI & SSDI residents as if we were unwanted furniture, or old frozen hamburger. i think the term “gentrification” is applicable here.

i now live in the 10th district.

i am a cultural activist.

i came here today — & will continue to come before you — to tell you my story, in which you will see reflected the need for system-wide reform. this is cultural activism.

similarly, what is unusual about HAVVACC is that we will be collecting lots of stories (in addition to more traditional articles and reports) to create an indexable & searchable anecdotal body of knowledge that can help HIVers and PWAs negotiate the assisted healthcare system without having to re-invent the wheel every step of the way. this is cultural activism.

in october we begin video interviews.

i look forward, over the next year, to sharing this new chapter in my advocacy with the city council, and working with you to begin reform of of these many kinds of systemic abuses in the LA-area assisted healthcare system. i look forward and to working with you toward the establishment, by may of 2011, of a model resident-centered HIV/AIDS assisted care facility whose mission will be, as an extension of the 1983 denver AIDS principles, to generate standards of care for HIVers and PWAs entering the assisted healthcare system.


—richard kearns

postscript —

this text was originally drafted to be presented at the arts, parks, health and aging committee meeting tuesday morning, but i took the wrong bus and ended up down by USC and missed the window for public comments at that meeting.  fortunately, i was able to convert it for presentation to the city council later in the morning tuesday, but that left me owing the city council the reading of a poem (which i had enclosed with my prepared remarks) on the topic. will try to rectify that friday or tuesday.

it’s taken me a day to rest up before i could post this.

copies of everything to everybody with my prepared remarks next time.

my first goal for next arts, parks, health & aging committee meeting: don’t take the bus to USC.



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