Target: Governor Bobby Jindal
Goal: Fight the spread of AIDS and provide treatment for people infected with HIV
Louisiana alone has the second and third-highest rates of HIV infection in the entire United States. According to Human Rights Watch, these rates belong to Louisiana’s two largest cities: Baton Rouge and New Orleans, respectively. With more people dying from AIDS in the southern region than any other place in the U.S., the development of HIV health services would seem like a logical procedure. And yet, in the south, HIV continues to spread at an alarming rate.
HIV prevention programs, like syringe exchanges, are commonly funded health services in the northern United States. People who inject drugs – whether for medical or nonmedical purposes – have access to clean needles and can avoid contracting blood-borne infections like HIV and hepatitis. In New Orleans, however, there is only one syringe exchange open to the public. It is run by volunteers, operates on borrowed space, and is only open for two hours every Friday. That’s one syringe exchange for upwards of 300,000 people, where 40% of the HIV-infected are not receiving the proper treatment. While state laws share some blame for the lack of services, the root of the problem is lack of proper financial backing.
Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, declined Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”). He went so far as to say, “We should measure success by reducing the number of people on public assistance.” But with more than half of Louisiana’s population still living in poverty after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, where are the funds supposed to come from? Because of his refusal, people with HIV are being denied resources. This means they are more likely to develop AIDS shortly after a positive diagnosis. HIV clinics, syringe exchanges, and other positive programs are being neglected in the governor’s ultimate quest for a financially independent state, free of “Leftist” government control. As a result, those who are seriously sick are being left to fend for themselves.
Sign the following petition to tell Governor Bobby Jindal that Louisiana’s health is more important than its financial independence. Make him realize that while he struggles to make his state reliant on private insurance rather than government insurance, people are dying from AIDS at a rate that’s double the U.S. average.
Dear Governor Jindal,
Louisiana’s HIV-infection rate is among the highest in the United States, with Baton Rouge and New Orleans responsible for the second and third-highest rates. Because of your refusal of Medicaid expansion, proper health services are being denied to those in dire need of treatment.
Human Rights Watch reports that “the AIDS death rate in Louisiana is more than double the U.S. average,” and that HIV-infection is not being properly addressed. Essential programs like syringe exchanges are not being properly funded. This poses a very serious health risk, as the HIV-infected are more likely to spread the infection via use of dirty needles. Louisiana’s HIV-related health services are few and far between. In fact, over 40% of the New Orleans population is not receiving any HIV treatment at all.
In light of this startling information, I urge you to reconsider Medicaid expansion. Your quest for a financially independent state is understandable, but your people’s health should come first. Stop the HIV-infected population from becoming another grim death statistic. Save their lives.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons