What is C2EA and what do we do?

The Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA) is a diverse, exciting coalition of people living with HIV & AIDS, their advocates and their loved ones. Together, we're demanding that our leaders exert the political will to stop the epidemic, in the U.S. and abroad, once and for all.

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By Felicia Carroll, Housing Works National & International Organizer & C2EA Northeast Region Co-Chair

Our trip to DC for AIDSWatch 2014 was a productive one. We made it to the 1:30pm visit with our coalition (GMHC, ASCNYC and Harlem United) to see Yvette Clark. It was productive – folks were talking about adolescent sex education and sexual health, syringe exchange programs, HIV criminalization and the Ryan White Program. Ms. Clark said she has always been supportive of these programs, including the ACA when it was going through some push back. She will continue to be supportive. Lyndel Urbano of GMHC summed it by saying we have the evidence and science and the tools to end AIDS. We were a contingency of about 30 folks from four different organizations that were bouncing off each other. It was a wonderful dynamic and Ms. Clark and her staff were awesome and greeted us with open arms.

We also did a visit with Nydia Velasquez. Dan Tietz asked folks where they were from, and he took folks that live in her district in first and the rest of us followed. Ms. Velasquez was awesome. Folks that were in her district talked about housing, syringe exchange programs, and adolescent sex education and sexual health. Some folks talked about the Ryan White Program and HIV criminalization. Ms. Velasquez and her staff were open and very accommodating despite our large group. Hats off to Dan Tietz who first asked where folks were from so that they could talk about their concerns first.

Our visit to Carolyn Maloney’s office was a productive one; they were knowledgeable on the issues that were brought forth by the group. She is in support of the issues. Folks talked about their concerns and her staff was awesome also. When they weren’t too sure about an issue they would ask about it. Guy Williams and the gentlemen that were with him were great – they made sure that everyone that wanted to speak had a chance to do so. They facilitated that meeting with expertise and grace! Kudos to them both.

Elliot Engel’s office was receptive. We met the Congressman when he was leaving to go vote. Mr. Engel asked everyone their names and shook their hands. Heidi Ross, his Senior Policy Advisor, was waiting for us. Our group got there before Lyndel’s contingency got there. I spoke about increasing funding for HOPWA and went into details about how the NY EMA has to share our HOPWA grant with three other entities. Ms. Ross didn’t know about HOPWA because she is not a housing person, but she got it. When I finished, Lyndel and the rest of our contingency showed up and he took over talking about the Ryan White Program, syringe exchange programs and the sex ed piece for adolescents. Again, Lyndel did an excellent job summing up how all of this fits into the Campaign to End AIDS.

Overall, AIDSWatch 2014 was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. I was lucky to be a part of a coalition that knew the policy and issues that affect our community and, if asked, I will do it again without hesitation!

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