Saturday, August 21, 2010

San Francisco Commemorates 20 Years of the Ryan White CARE Act

Ernest Hopkins, Legislative Affairs Director for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation

More than 60 legislative aides, care-givers, executive directors, HIV Health Services Planning Council members, and clients gathered on the steps San Francisco City Hall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act on August 18.

Randy Allgaier, director of the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council, acted as the MC and he began the event with introductory remarks. He mentioned the presence of executive directors Brett Andrews from the Positive Resource Center, Mike Smith from the AIDS/Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, and Bill Hirsh from AIDS Legal Referral Panel. Shanti executive director Kaushik Roy and Stop AIDS Project executive director Kyriell Noon were there, as was Maitri interim executive director Tracy Teraoka, with their former executive director Tim Patriarca.

Randy Allgaier, director of the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council

Allgaier lavishly praised Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representives, and her aide Dan Bernal spoke at the rally about future goals. California State Senator Mark Leno’s aide Reese Isbel and San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty’s aide Alex Randoph also spoke. District 8 supervisor candidates Scott Wiener, Rebecca Prozan, and Rafael Mandelman joined the group near the podium to witness the event.

Ernest Hopkins, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Legislative Affairs Director spoke emotionally about the momentous commemoration. Hopkins is also Chair of the Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief (CAEAR), a vital national organization.

Ryan White client Hulda Brown spoke about how she was able to have a new life thanks to the services provided to her

Ryan White CARE Act client Hulda Brown bravely spoke about how she was able to turn her life around with funding support to alleviate her AIDS diagnosis. She said that she did not mind that people knew that she was infected and commented: “It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it.” Sustained applause followed her remarks.

Past and present members of the CARE Council also spoke, including Cecilia Chung and Laura Thomas who referred to her ACT UP activism days. Council co-chair Steve Manley commented on his 22 years living with AIDS and he praised actress Elizabeth Taylor for shaming members of the U.S. Congress at hearings to provide funding in the early years of the pandemic. The final speaker, Shanti’s Mark Molnar, acknowledged the CARE Council members who are no longer alive.

Bigots and satirists facing off

Two anti-gay bigots, protected by barriers, kept up a steady irrational heckling of the event, but they were ignored. And two satirists stood next to them with kooky signs belittling their propaganda.

The commemoration was sponsored by the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council and the San Francisco HIV/AIDS Providers Network. Further information is at

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