Josh Kruger, a Philly-based writer and editor, writes about HIV/AIDS, LGBT politics, media and ethics using his personal experience as a member of Philly’s LGBT community and as someone living with HIV. I’ve excerpted a love note he wrote to the Philadelphia HIV/AIDS organizations who saved his life last year. To see the rest of the love letter, and to read more of his work, please visit Josh’s website.
“So, last year, after decades of HIV/AIDS research, after decades of public health campaigns, and after thousands of HIV/AIDS related fundraisers, volunteer campaigns, and solemn memorials for those men and women we have lost to this virus, I was still stubbornly dying. At this point, it was the work of bureaucrats at the Philadelphia AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) that came into action because I made one single phone call to AACO upon the urging of an HIV case manager at Action AIDS. After this brief phone call with an incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and commonsense woman at AACO who went above and beyond her duty in order to comply with my ridiculous lack of a voicemail box, I was fast tracked to an appointment at Philadephia FIGHT. And, at this point, I began to take ownership of my health and take the steps necessary to live long enough to be both a writer and, eventually, an LGBT senior citizen living with HIV.
My situation is not unique; after all, at last count, there were nearly 20,000 Philadelphians currently living with HIV/AIDS. What makes those living with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia different, however, is the fact that we are lucky enough to live in the best city nationwide for HIV/AIDS related services. In this age where we have city council members paying their mortgages with their campaign funds, publishers figuratively in bed with the sheriff’s office for foreclosure ad revenue, and unqualified bureaucrats making nearly six figures at Philadelphia International Airport for doing nothing thanks to a dying city political party spoils scheme, we in Philadelphia also have something to be proud of: the best HIV/AIDS organizational infrastructre in the entire nation.”