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July 31, 2004
One of TheLastWatch.coms heroes who we are privileged to call a friend has been hospitalized in San Juan. He needs immediate direct financial support.
Internationally noted AIDS activist José F. Colon, coordinator of San Juan's AIDS Patients for Sane Policies, was hospitalized July 19. As he rests in a hospital room with an oxygen tank and an intravenous bag containing sodium chloride stuck in his arm, he wrote on July 27 about not being able to stop thinking about what is happening in the city of Baghdad, difficult as it is for him to understand the reasons billions of dollars are being spent on the wrong war, when there is such a great need for many like him striving to survive HIV/AIDS all over the world.
José wrote eloquently from his hospital bed this week:
Its characteristic of José to worry about others and the war on AIDS, even while he battles his own ordeal.
Colon was a member of the Ryan White CARE Act-mandated local community advisory body in the San Juan EMA (Eligible Metropolitan Area) for 30 months between 2000 and 2002, and now serves as a proxy member for 2002-2004 on San Juans CARE Council. He is also proxy at the state level HIV/AIDS Community Planning Group. Colon had worked for the Executive Director of Puerto Rico CONCRA in the mid-1990's. Smelling a proverbial rat, he approached the only representative in the Camara [House] of Representatives who would listen that something was desperately wrong with funding designated for AIDS services. As a result of Colons whistleblowing, the Executive Director was eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison for his participation in the case of $2.2 million of CARE Act funds embezzled from the San Juan AIDS Institute, a large portion of which was diverted from AIDS care to the 1992 campaign of Puerto Rico's Governor, Pedro Rossello, who denied the claim.
José was instrumental in organizing public demonstrations of people with AIDS and their families many of whom who had sought treatment in vain and were denied AIDS medications due to the missing embezzled funds in front of the federal courthouse throughout the 58-day trial, demanding convictions. In addition to the three who were eventually convicted, nine others including prominent doctors, lawyers, accountants and community leaders were also indicted in the fraud scheme and were eventually tried in two separate trials that rocked San Juans political establishment.
With the favorable Court verdict under his belt, Colon pushed for more investigations of corruption in AIDS-related agencies. He was a principal advocate for accountability provisions that were added to the 2000 Reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act legislation. Among those provisions is the requirement that community advisory bodies established in each EMA under the CARE Act must be comprised of at least one-third of members who are non-conflicted people living with HIV/AIDS. This provision widely despised at the time by AIDS organization leaders, including some in San Francisco who actively and quite publicly attempted to kill the provision has since grown to be widely embraced and seen as a positive change. One day, Colons greatest legacy in addition to his whistleblowing that brought down the AIDS corruption schemes in San Juan may well be his advocacy that kept this provision alive while facing heated, hostile opposition from AIDS bureaucrats and AIDS industry careerists intent on blocking accountability efforts. Without his advocacy to protect this accountability measure, AIDS insiders may have been successful in killing the provision.
Luckily, the provision was finally incorporated into the 2000 Reauthorization of the CARE Act. Hundreds of thousands of people with HIV/AIDS have José to thank for his tireless advocacy to incorporate this provision as a means to protect AIDS services and the provision of AIDS medications.
José now needs our help; he explains how and why below. Please take the time to read his appeal, and consider what you can do to ease his financial plight. Any contribution you could make now will be a significant way in which to honor José's heroic work helping thousands of people with HIV/AIDS obtain the very healthcare and medications keeping them alive. Hes been an honorable advocate, tirelessly helping others for many years; its now our turn to help be an advocate for José during his time of need.
Please share this information widely with your friends and colleagues.
July 27, 2004
Today I have been hospitalized for nine consecutive days. I do not know when I will be released and the financial burden of not receiving any income is making this crisis worse. I need your support. In any other occasion I would feel embarrassed and ashamed to ask, but reality can not be ignored. HIV/AIDS impoverishes people who have it.
I have Medicare [Parts] A and B. Thats it. But the expenses build up regarding every day expenses like gas, television, miscellaneous expenses and parking. This hospital charges for everything.
Thank God that they gave me a courtesy regarding phone calls because it would have been $9.00 per day. Besides, I have to pay for things that are not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles per each service given. Then theres my rent, car payment and food at home. If I dont work I am not paid, because I work on a contractual basis. At this moment I do not have a total, but the amount is growing ...
Thank you beforehand,
God Bless You,
You can mail your contributions to: (feel free to forward this message to whom you may consider...)
José F. Colon
Alternatively, if you would like to remain anonymous you can send contributions to me at 975 Sutter Street, Apt. 6, San Francisco, CA 94109.
Ill honor your confidentiality, and
will forward your donation to José immediately.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Patrick Monette-Shaw. All rights reserved. This work may not be reposted anywhere on the Web, or reprinted in any print media, without express written permission of the author. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.