I shall not say I hate the USA. What about Jack Kerouac, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath? What about Sonny Rollins and James Brown? They are all ‘Americans’ after all, and the deep influences of those artists (and many others from La Yuma) are part of the weave of my soul.
Also I can’t hate the USA, because I was, for the fist time since my diagnosis, lawfully allowed to visit. They let me in with all my medication. My precious ARVs. Last time I went they were all hidden in a vitamin bottle, in the suitcase I checked in. Terrified that if the suitcase went missing I would be in a foreign country where medical care is extremely expensive. Even with an HIV friendly travel insurance the idea of running around Miami”s doctors getting a script for ARVs, and having to anticipate the costs from my pocket, was making me extremely anxious.
But this time I walked with my head high through custom. All my medications in their proper boxes in my hand luggage. Confident I had a right to visit my friends who are like my extended family. Friends who are as important to my health and well being as those pills I have to swallow everyday.
Something else made my heart warm toward the USA.
During my time in Miami the historical Health Bill was passed. The Bill is crucial on securing medical care to many people living with HIV in the US, and many other people also living with life threatening illnesses. I remember in 2008, when I was at the Mexico conference, the shock I felt learning that 18.000 people had died of AIDS that year because of the long waiting lists on Medicare. I couldn’t believe this could happen in the richest country in the world.
Regan Hoffman reports on the impact the Health Bill will have on PLHIV on her blog rightly titled: ‘Obama Cares’