kearns to LA city APHA committee: a new HIV/AIDS & aging advocacy (046)

richardkearns.awo.atomic-moi-0504090915a[october 6, 2009) good morning chairman labonge, distinguished Arts, Parks, Health & Aging (APHA) committee. i have given the clerk copies of my prepared statement.

my name is richard kearns. i am a 58-year-old gay man living with AIDS in los angeles for more than 20 years, am AODS actovost & long-term survivor. i live in an assisted care facility.

i am here today to begin an advocacy on behalf of HICers and People With AIDS (PWAs) who are over 50 and

  1. living in an assisted care facility,
  2. accessing in-home supportive services or
  3. participating in what we can loosely term “HIV/AIDS adult daycare” or support services that range from peer counseling to acupuncture, from medical updates to speed dating.

my story simplified: without warning i was evicted from my Los ange;es assosted care living facility, along with another estimated 130 residents with a multitude of medical conditions, so that it could be rennovated. my old residence, in council district 5, was close to my healthcare providers & doctor. i am now placed in council district 10, in a facility more than an hour away via public transport. my health declined dramatically during this “displacement process,” during which i stayed in 3 separate motels for a period of a month. following the rennovation, i expect rent for “new” residents will (probably double).

this speaks to the issue of resident / stakeholder needs to be involved in the planning process. in my situation, i think plans were clearly made for the assisted living closure and renovation. such planning processes are most often covert, & stakeholders & advocates are not invoted or wanted. ultimately the issue here involves the connections between good housing and healthcare — which is critical to promoting care of People with AIDS.

but in order for you to appreciate all this, though, i wnat to offer you a broader view of what it’s like to be a Person with AIDS living in the assisted healthcare system. this is the aim of havvacc, the HIV/AIDS Volunteer Assisted Care Community: to assemble an anecdotal body of knowledge by collecting such stories on the internet.

today, for instance, i will be telling the city council what it’s like to live with AIDS-related dementia. i have included an excerpt for you from another AIDS blogger telling the story of another PWAs experience of dementia.

it lies ahead of us, like an undiscovered country, & i look forward to exploring it with you in the coming months.


—richard kearns

moffie from starts us on that blogging journey.

the piece is titled pcp. read the paragraph below carefully. if it’s never happened to you, imagine it. to me, it recalls my AIDS-releated dementia, which many hivers have recovered from. i know. i remember i parked two cars in the same mall in denver and forgot where they were. i had rented the second until i found the first. i just thought i was tired.

if you don’t think that’s news, you’re mistaken. moffie writes in his march 1, 2006 post called tim’s hiv blog:

one day, while going to the market about a mile away from our home; i came to a stop sign, and completely blanked out. i knew this was our car, but i didn’t know why i was in the car, and where i was going. i turned the car around and started back in the direction i came from, in the hopes that i would recognize something that would take me home. i slowly motored up the hill and came to a stop sign and looked to my right, and didn’t recognize anything. there were only three or four homes on the block, as the street ended in the “i-25 highway”. i looked to the left and still didn’t recognize anything, but the street name appeared very familiar. i made a slow left turn, and started down the hill, watching very carefully as each home went by, struggling to see something familiar. finally, i noticed a nice home with the garage doors open and one of the cars was my little citroen, moffie. wow, relief, i finally found home. i parked the cadillac in the garage, and went in the house and gave my sweetie the keys and told him of my situation. i wasn’t able to drive for a full three years.

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