When your “economic anxiety” is actually human apathy

I’m writing this right now in-between shallow breaths and a rapidly increasing dread of the future.

Last night, the GOP House took their first step in gutting the ACA by refusing to protect the current ACA’s coverage of pre-existing conditions. Last night, every one of you that voted for a Republican candidate said you were okay with my death.

I wouldn’t shed a tear if every one of these assholes died tomorrow.

I have HIV

I have been slowly taking my time coming out to others as HIV+. For the longest time, it has been about me taking charge of a chronic condition and not being scared to deal with it.

At this point, most people know; it’s just family that doesn’t. I thought it wasn’t any of their business. I still don’t think it is, but now I feel like I can’t afford to stay in the closet in any aspect of my life, anymore.

A few quick answers to get out of the way, because I won’t be discussing these issues further.

  1. Yes, I was living with HIV when you last saw me. This isn’t a new situation for me.
  2. No, you don’t need to know anything about the specifics (when/how/where/who).
  3. Yes, I’m actually quite healthy, thanks to my strict adherence to daily antiretroviral HIV meds.
  4. Yes, you can ask me questions in general about the virus via DM, but I will still remind you that I won’t discuss my person specifics as mentioned in #2.

That said, being HIV+ hasn’t been terribly easy, but the ACA has helped make sure I will always be able to get coverage should I lose my current plan. With adherence to a treatment regimen, the virus can’t replicate. If the virus can’t replicate, I won’t lose white blood cells (CD4). If I don’t lose white blood cells, I won’t develop AIDS. If I don’t develop AIDS, I won’t bloody well die of AIDS, either.

A price and a countdown for my health

Shortly after the election, I started crunching numbers on how much two pills a day cost for two people.

The cost of HIV treatment medication is ridiculous. I’m not going to defend pharmaceutical costs because Gilead alone has seen profit margins of 40% or greater for the past two years. But the reality is that without those drugs, I and the other 40 million people living with HIV will continue to die. This isn’t rhetoric; this is a statement of eventual fact.

Donald Trump himself has said that pre-existing conditions should be protected under whatever monstrosity the GOP tries to push through. Up until last night, it seemed like there was a chance that people like me could continue to live. We were finally starting to have a little hope that we could make it through the next four years, however small that hope might be.

Then House Republicans decided that those of us with pre-existing conditions could just die.

Let’s be real here. Conservatives want to argue that “pre-existing conditions” will somehow be provided for by some insurance providers, but if an insurance company no longer has to provide insurance for someone they consider a higher cost, they simply won’t. They’ll gladly insure people that are healthy, but those of us that might cost money are out of luck. This is a horrible system that many of us are one bad doctor visit away from being stuck in.

The Affordable Care Act changed that. It allowed those of us who need to see a doctor to well, live, were suddenly able to get the care we needed. It made many people realize that even if they did test HIV+, they would be able to get healthcare and treatment. We saw that people were getting tested more often, and as a result, we’ve seen the number of diagnoses slowly declining, which suggests that actual infections have slowly declined, as well.

But none of that matters to conservatives. None of that matters to supporters of Trump. None of that matters to my father. To them, I’m just another faggot getting what’s coming to me for living a “blasphemous” life that “not everyone agrees with.”

We live in a completely interdependent world, which simply means we can not escape each other. How we respond to AIDS depends, in part, on whether we understand this interdependence. It is not someone else’s problem. This is everybody’s problem.
— Bill Clinton

I don’t care that you wanted to support Republicans or conservatives. I don’t care that you were toeing the party line or that you were “sending a message to Washington.” Throughout the past year, pundits have argued that you were worried about the economy. You were concerned about how you perceived a lack of morality in the Democratic Party. But in the end, you put your desire for your own wealth over my need of health. You’ve decided that you don’t care if my kind are dead. Your apathy will kill every last one of us because you don’t think it will happen to you.

Death of David Kirby, photo by Therese Frare.