WASHINGTON DC, June 21 — Over 50 people rallied for more effective HIV prevention and more affordable housing in the Congress Heights neighborhood — one of D.C.’s worst hit areas in terms of HIV. Every 3rd Saturday of the month, the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association’s Health Disparities Committee (MWPHA) and several other groups visit neighborhoods to raise the awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
PLP has been organizing within MWPHA for some time now. We have struggled with our friends to not just hand out condoms but also to directly confront the bosses for their racist neglect of HIV patients. Out of that struggle we have won the group to have these rallies and to link the fight against HIV/AIDS with the fight for housing, jobs, drug treatment, and more youth programs, including sex education in all schools as a way to see that we must fight the whole capitalist system. One of MWPHA’s major demands is for more affordable housing for everyone living with HIV/AIDS to help people prevent and manage HIV. PLP members distributed about 35 CHALLENGES and plan on having study groups to discuss how communism can ensure health equity for all workers.
During this last rally we chanted, “Affordable Housing is the Name of the Game, Soccer Stadium – Shame, Shame, Shame!”, “Racism Means Fight Back, HIV Means Fight Back, Housing Mean, Fight Back,” and much more. People marched around the neighborhood with signs and distributed a flier that compared the amount of public money offered to a soccer stadium developer — up to $225 MILLION — with the amount of housing that could be provided to people who need homes. Over 25,000 people are on the waiting list for housing vouchers (Section 8 ) and about 200 people with AIDS are waiting for housing funded by a federal program called HOPWA.
Housing and HIV
People with no stable housing are 3-9 times more likely to get HIV. Unstable housing puts people in very vulnerable positions that often lead to drug addiction and exchanging sex for a place to stay. Homeless individuals with HIV or AIDS have much more trouble taking their medications correctly or at all (National AIDS Housing Coalition, http://www.nahc.org). Meanwhile, affordable housing has been disappearing because capitalism puts making profits — high rental costs and sparse housing assistance — over the needs of workers. In the 1970s MWPHA requested over 400,000 vouchers for rental assistance; in 2003 the budget included less than 40,000 vouchers.
A revolution for a communist society gives workers the power to eliminate profit in all aspects of society so we can meet the needs of our class. It also eliminates racism that developers and their politicians use to favor stadiums and condos over workers’ basic necessities for life. In China when the working class had control, everyone had access to basic health care, lived free of epidemics like schistosomiasis, and had an average life expectancy that increased from 35 to 68 years. Unfortunately, they abandoned this system and gave control of health to private organizations that charged for services and required health insurance. Infectious diseases and infant mortality rates have soared (Blumentha D, Hsiao W. Privatization and its discontents – the evolving Chinese health care system. New England Journal of Medicine; 2005. 353(11): 1165-70). Progressive Labor Party invites all of our activist friends to join us in raising the class struggle for a workers’ dictatorship, so we can really save the health of our class.