The range of response from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community to the victims of Hurricane Katrina continues to grow with substantial cash donations and a wide range of individual acts of kindness.
The LGBT humanitarian group Rainbow World Fund (RWF) which has partnered with America’s Second Harvest (ASH) had raised $250,000 for all victims of the hurricane to date.
“We are changing how the world sees LGBT people,” reads RWF’s web site.
The National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) later organized a coalition of LGBT organizations, including PlanetOut, Inc. to help LGBT victims with the Hurricane Katrina LGBT Relief Fund according to Planet Out.
Craig Bowman. NYAC’s executive director said the fund has raised $50,000 and he expects that total to increase read a recent Associated Press article.
Thousands of people with HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina face the challenge of managing their disease without their support system. About 8,000 people no longer have their doctors, clinics, and their support systems.
When Michael-Chase Creasey, 49, fled New Orleans, he brought his HIV medicines – but not a lifetime supply. He needed to ensure that his prescriptions would not be interrupted.
HIV-infected people typically take a “cocktail” of medications that can include upward of 20 pills a day. The AIDS Alliance For Children estimates at least 8,000 HIV-infected people are now trying to get care. Federal officials say they are doing their best to streamline care to these patients and several drug companies are offering free medication.
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Agency, the federal agency that provides health care for people infected with HIV, completely lost its service centers in Biloxi and New Orleans. Social stigmas may also limit some access to care.
Those evacuees who do seek medical assistance from providers at emergency centers may end up with doctors who have no experience caring for people with HIV said one doctor.
Dr. Nicholas Bellos, president of the Dallas-based Southwestern Infectious Disease Associates, helped launch an online triage program for Katrina survivors. Viral load tests, to see how much HIV is in someone’s bloodstream, as well as T-cell tests, to determine the strength of their immune system, are important factors when deciding what to prescribe, he said.
Many advocates said the week of Sept. 14th that with an impending public health disaster looming in the Gulf region, they feared that people living with HIV and AIDS might slip through the cracks.