By Evany Turk
Women are a vital part of our community. Women wear lots of hats and control much of the household, and when a woman is diagnosed with HIV that doesn’t stop. Unfortunately she now has another thing she has to learn to juggle: taking medications and getting to additional doctor’s appointments. But it can be done, and the kinds of services offered by Part D of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program are a major part of helping in that process.
When I was pregnant, a small agency sent a community worker to my home to help me learn how to take my meds so my baby would be free from HIV. That same agency came out to help me give my baby HIV meds the first six weeks of his life to be certain he had no chance of contracting HIV. That service was provided under Part D. If not for that service, I would have been unable to cope with giving myself medication and giving my baby medication.
As part of an HIV care team, those services from smaller agencies are crucial today. Women living with HIV have a right to become mothers, and want to. They need to know the proper way to care for themselves and their child immediately after birth to prevent them from contracting HIV, and the medical team doesn’t have the time to do personal home visits.
Transportation assistance to medical appointments for women living with HIV is very important as well. A great number of people living with HIV live in low-income areas and can’t afford transportation because they are trying to maintain a place to live. If we cut Part D services and eliminate these crucial resources, it will be detrimental to the health of women living with HIV because they then won’t have access to care, with the barrier to care being transportation.
Eliminating Part D services will make it harder to retain women in care, which ultimately weakens communities. Part D services helped me to save my life and enabled me to be a leader in my community and a healthy mother to my children.
Evany Turk is a Chicago-based PWN-USA member who works at the University of Chicago’s Care 2 Prevent Program.