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December 12, 2010

Too long a wait for housing

Philadelphia Inquirer: "We represent a group of 80 medical and public-health professionals who have authored a consensus statement on this crisis. The group includes experienced physicians such as Ellen Tedaldi, the director of Temple's comprehensive HIV program and the doctor who treated Carlos when he was first diagnosed.

"We present the scientific documentation for the effectiveness of subsidized housing in HIV prevention and treatment and urge city government to recognize that providing housing for people living with HIV and AIDS is an essential public-health intervention (see Our city must house everyone on the waiting list and expand the reach of the federal housing program to include people before they become so sick that they are on the verge of very painful deaths. These small steps, which will cost the city approximately 0.1 percent of its current budget, are necessary components of any plan to effectively combat our alarming HIV epidemic.

"Unlike too many others, Carlos Gonzalez was fortunate enough to see his condition improve. After two years on the waiting list, Carlos began receiving rental subsidies in early 2010. He now lives in a one-bedroom apartment in South Philadelphia. Because he is able to take all scheduled treatment doses, the HIV virus cannot be detected in his blood. As a result, his immune system is much stronger, and he no longer spends two weeks each year in a hospital bed.

"Today, Carlos is a certified HIV counselor. He gives back to the community and provides hope to others going through the same struggles he successfully overcame. Because he knows that so many of the people he reaches out to on the streets will not survive the wait for housing, Carlos has become a tireless advocate. We stand with him in asking Mayor Nutter and City Council to end the waiting list for housing assistance for people living with HIV and AIDS."