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August 14, 2013 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Men Who Want AIDS—and How It Improved Their Lives Some homeless people find that having AIDS entitles them to assistance that will allow them to get off the streets. Some are desperate enough to deliberately get infected as they see no other way to get the help they need.
posted by 2manyusernames (37 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the main things I took away from studying anthropology in college is this: no matter how totally bizarre, irrational, or insane a behavior might appear to outsiders, it's there for a reason. It's somehow adaptive. People don't generally do things for no reason.

This article is a great illustration of that. Here's something it seems insane to do... and here's why, given these incredible constraints, it actually makes sense.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2013 [32 favorites]


ugh, perverse incentives. They're usually just annoying but this is inhumane.
posted by GuyZero at 2:18 PM on August 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


A question I often discuss with friends: is the sane, rational thing to do when faced with how terrible the world is to become wholly despondent? How can happiness be an option for any halfway empathetic person given how fucking horrible things are for many of our fellow human beings?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:18 PM on August 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


I give it a couple months before some rush limbaugh type turns this in to a "welfare queens" type talking point, and says that we're giving + too much support if it's causing this, or some shit like that.
posted by emptythought at 2:20 PM on August 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


How can happiness be an option for any halfway empathetic person given how fucking horrible things are for many of our fellow human beings?

Don't chase the ideal. Live your life and help where you can. And maybe one day you will be John Connor.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


And the response from a board member for GMHC.

This is not a common approach to a better life, but it highlights how we as a modern society need to eradicate the real plagues of stigma, homelessness and poverty that continue to fuel new HIV infections. Don’t stop providing people with HIV supportive services; rather look at how those services can be expanded to envelop the populations at risk.

A couple nights ago we got together with some friends and watched (re-watched, some of us) United in Anger (full video here), a documentary history of ACT UP (mostly ACT UP NY). If you didn't live through those days, or if you've forgotten what they were like, set aside some time to watch it.

I wonder what the struggle for health reform would have brought us if those fighting for it had been able to bring the kind of rage and direct action that ACT UP used to force the FDA to change its testing and clinical trial protocols and Koch to deal with the crisis that left patients dying in filthy hospital hallways.
posted by rtha at 2:24 PM on August 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


Oh FFS. This is the equivalent of those annoying NY Times style pieces creating a trend out of one person's life.

Why do people write this kind of exploitative bullshit? Yes, people in shitty economic situations make the best decisions that they can in the moment. This isn't a new idea -- I've heard it before, and it usually misses the context in which people are trying to survive.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:25 PM on August 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


emptythought: "I give it a couple months before some rush limbaugh type turns this in to a "welfare queens" type talking point, and says that we're giving + too much support if it's causing this, or some shit like that."

I hope not, but I fear you are probably right. If anything it is an indication we are giving far too little. No one should look at having AIDS as a lesser of evils. We can give more than a billion dollars to those who went through a major storm but can't get enough food and housing to give basic help to those who truly need it.
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:32 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I give it a couple months before some rush limbaugh type turns this in to a "welfare queens" type talking point, and says that we're giving + too much support if it's causing this, or some shit like that.

Lucky Duckies.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:44 PM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's an interesting and unfortunate exploit of our culture's incapacity for universal compassion. It highlights that we have categories of who is and isn't worth of compassion and that some people need to immigrate across these borders at high cost to themselves in order to get what they need to survive.

People care more about stray dogs than homeless people which is very sad. It's weird to think that it is because they are not quite hard enough done by and we just need a little bit more to go wrong for them to care.
posted by srboisvert at 2:47 PM on August 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


What's really outrageous here is that people living with HIV/AIDS are not started on treatment until their CD4+ cell count declines to 200 cells/mm3 (i.e., they are immunosuppressed). Study after study has shown that the benefits of HIV treatment are blunted if you wait that long, not to mention the risks of onward transmission.
posted by docgonzo at 2:56 PM on August 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


A question I often discuss with friends: is the sane, rational thing to do when faced with how terrible the world is to become wholly despondent? How can happiness be an option for any halfway empathetic person given how fucking horrible things are for many of our fellow human beings?

I woke up this morning and the world was so fucking beautiful. Humanity was flawed, but less flawed than I remember it being in the past.

Treatment for HIV/AIDS and the resources made available to the people living with it have progressed to the point where a small percentage of people now view contracting it as a viable strategy for dealing with a desperate situation. This is a far cry from being ideal, but a marked improvement over the state of things twenty-five years ago.

Basic game theory suggests that if every action results in the same outcome, then any action is equally valid. Does becoming despondent in any way assist the people whose crises you are lamenting? If not, then there’s no “sane, rational” reason to become so. There are seven billion people in this world, and I feel like most of them are doing reasonably well. I’m privileged to be more fortunate than most, but if I had to trade places with the average member of the human population, I think that I would still find that things were worth living for and that I could be happy. We have some problems with how our resources have been distributed, and finding a solution to that may very well involve the necessitating of putting some fucking heads on some fucking spikes, but I do believe that the movement to see a solution to this problem found is gaining momentum in a way that cannot be forestalled indefinitely.

So things are looking up! It’s a pretty good world, and if I ever find it to be otherwise, the exits are clearly marked.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:11 PM on August 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


> What's really outrageous here is that people living with HIV/AIDS are not started on treatment until their CD4+ cell count declines to 200 cells/mm3 (i.e., they are immunosuppressed). Study after study has shown that the benefits of HIV treatment are blunted if you wait that long, not to mention the risks of onward transmission.

Which is why many places other than HASA don't use the 200 CD4 count as an eligibility criteria for benefits. It's an outdated and dangerous criteria.

And the point of the article isn't that clinicians aren't offering treatment at higher CD4s, but that people are choosing not to take them until they hit that point.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:13 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there more to this article than a lot of "I know a guy who"s? I mean, there are people who want all kinds of things, but it's a bit much to conclude this is a national trend on the basis of what I see here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:30 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Parasite Unseen: “So things are looking up! It’s a pretty good world, and if I ever find it to be otherwise, the exits are clearly marked.”

Indeed! It's just such a good life, after all – it's such a good life...
posted by koeselitz at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


A question I often discuss with friends: is the sane, rational thing to do when faced with how terrible the world is to become wholly despondent? How can happiness be an option for any halfway empathetic person given how fucking horrible things are for many of our fellow human beings?

Lessons I've learned and occasionally have to relearn:
1. I can't fix the world. I can only try to fix the pieces of it that I can reach.
2. I try to remember that fixing the world is not entirely my responsibility. It is a shared reponsibility, not one I have to carry on my own. I carry what I can, let others know what I can't, and I hope that others step up to help where they can.
3. I don't have high expectations of my fellow humans, and that's okay. Not being able to do much does not make a person bad. We're all doing the best we can by our own lights, and even terrible people are doing terrible things because those acts make sense in their world. I don't have to understand or accept them or their reasons, but people are people, and live by their own compass. Recognizing perspective in other people's actions is important to me.
4. So is keeping perspective on my life and my actions. I'm not the center of the universe and I'll never be a famous actor or important scientist. And that's fine.
5. I want to work toward helping the less-privileged where appropriate rather than reacting against those who feel they don't deserve it.

Many of us on mefi live privileged lives. The fact that I've got an Internet connection on my iPad makes my own place clear. Where I can, I'll leverage my position to make things better for others.

To answer your question more directly, I can't look at the whole world and fix all its problems, or even those of the people that live a block away. Way too much overload. But I can take some leftovers across the street to that young family with no money, and I can watch the neighbor's dog when her sisters bring all the kids over uninvited.

The little things matter.
posted by disclaimer at 3:41 PM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is there more to this article than a lot of "I know a guy who"s? I mean, there are people who want all kinds of things, but it's a bit much to conclude this is a national trend on the basis of what I see here.

Yea KFB, that's another good point. There is definitely an element of "This one time a woman yelled at my friend for holding a door open for her" to this(which is something i've heard a kabllion times, but in a discussion last night i realized i had never actually met someone it had directly happened to. It's all just "a friend"). They found one guy, who talks about other people doing the depressing fucked up thing he did out of desperation.

While voices from boots on the ground inside of a world not many people can get an accurate view of are better than nothing, this seems like a pretty damn thin basis to claim this is an epidemic. "people are getting aids intentionally to get government benefits" sounds like a great headline, but after more than 10 seconds it sounds like some conservative talk radio ragebait like i said above. If you're going to bring out something that outrageous, you better be able to back it up with more than "we talked to this guy who told stories about a few people he had met whose first names he maybe remembers".

They could have had a much more credible article if they dropped a lot of the "I know a guy" shit and just told his story, and spent most of the time poopin' on the system that led him to do this, and commenting more on a "makes you wonder how many other people went down this desperate path because of these shitty rules" angle.

This is really lazy outrage bait journalism. It's just not great quality, and screams of being done by someone who was all huffed up about the(admittedly fucked up as shit) situation people are going through here. It reads like a reddit witch hunt bait thread about someone kicking a kitten.

It also goes on for 6 pages without a whole ton of filling. It's like the cheapest humbow where it's almost all fluff and no pork. My first post was just shoot from the hip snark, but really, what a hunk of crap this is.

I mean really, if someone had taken this exact same base material and "journalism" and reversed the spin cycle so they were hating on welfare queens, we would all be pissing and shitting all over this article for having the source of one guy and some anecdotal crap. "this guy did this and the system is fucked up as hell also" is enough, the rest is a lot of frosting on a really small cake.
posted by emptythought at 3:46 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


One guy knows one guy who might have done something shocking. I agree with emptythought and others who see "lazy outrage bait journalism" here.
posted by kanewai at 3:51 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has anyone found more evidence that this so-called phenomenon exists, material that explains how prevalent it really is or isn't? Surely this isn't the only article available? I'm not convinced that this is a good article by any means, but I'm not entirely convinced either that it's pure bullshit. Maybe I'm not skeptical or cynical enough. Now I want to know.
posted by quiet earth at 3:56 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to joke that if I ever found myself with HIV I would immediately move to Hollywood and do everything I could to get work as an extra since Screen Actors Guild coverage provides for HIV treatment. Now I know I wouldn't have to leave beloved Portland. Yay government!
posted by mediocre at 4:05 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


after more than 10 seconds it sounds like some conservative talk radio ragebait like i said above

It sounds like liberal ragebait too. I mean you know services for homeless people are dire, but now you have the added anecdote that they're so bad that people are risking health problems or death, and everything else HIV infection entails for better services.

I'm skeptical.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:15 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have experienced people [who are] grateful that they have HIV

This world isn't some creation that we aren't part of. This is the world your existence has created. What are you going to do next, though?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:17 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's probably not a lot of people who would want to do this to get benefits, certainly not the numbers that would provoke a "welfare queens" rant from Limbaugh (but watch him try anyway).
However, the idea that even one person would view contracting a potentially deadly disease as a way to improve their life makes me sad.
posted by arcticseal at 4:51 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pruitt-igoe: and as a bonus which I didn't even realize until I cogitated on this a bit more, the subject of the story didn't even contract HIV intentionally.

I can't believe I skipped that before. This is an absolute liberal ragebait bingo, since HIV is practically the nuclear weapon of any discussion fodder on that side like "terrorists" or "the children" are to the right wing.

The more laps this does on the Nürburgring of my mind, the thinner and crappier it seems. This is completely designed for PLS RETWEET type situations where people will "pass it on" before they finish the article and especially before they have time to think about it for more than 5 minutes.

It's like the journalism version of shitty dance music they play in bad clubs. It's fun when you're drunk and not paying attention, but if you actually sit down and listen to it it's total lazy garbage.

And as I said above, there's a nugget of what could create a good article in here. They just decided it wasn't linkbaity enough without crushing it into their mold and turning the gain up to 11.
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"They could have had a much more credible article if they dropped a lot of the "I know a guy" shit and just told his story, and spent most of the time poopin' on the system that led him to do this, and commenting more on a "makes you wonder how many other people went down this desperate path because of these shitty rules" angle."

READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE:

“I have experienced people [who are] grateful that they have HIV,” says Sage Rivera, a research associate at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has worked with hundreds of LGBT youth. “It’s sort of like a sigh of relief or an extra boost,” he says. “There are a whole bunch of different names for HIV within the [LGBT] community: ‘the monster,’ ‘the kitty,’ ‘the scratch,’ ‘the gift that keeps on giving.’ So people say, ‘I have the kitty — so now I can get my place. Now I can get hooked up; I can get my food stamps, I can get this, I can get that.’

people like James Bolas, director of education for the nonprofit Empire State Coalition in New York. “It’s sad that really young people are forced to take this measure in order to survive,” he says, adding that he first heard about young homeless people rationalizing HIV infection as a means to obtain benefits as early as 1987, when the virus was still untreatable.

Nancy Downing, director of advocacy and legal services at Covenant House New York, a youth shelter, has also learned of kids who consider getting infected with HIV/AIDS as a means of survival

(balance quote: Despite the wealth of anecdotal evidence, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, through its Office of Youth Development —which helps oversee and fund programs for homeless youth — says it is unaware of homeless gay youth purposely getting infected with HIV/AIDS as a way to obtain services. Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, responsible for providing homeless youth in New York City with the services and resources they need to stabilize their lives, would give no comment.)

She has often broken the diagnosis of HIV to young gay men, ages 16 and older, and has been shocked by some of the responses. “ ‘Oh, if I have HIV, I’m good, they will take care of me. I’m going to get housing, I’m going to get my meds,’ ” Aregbesola paraphrases. “Outside their world, there is still a lot of stigma. But in their world, [it’s] ‘Oh, I got the monster? This is now an opportunity for me to be better than I was last year.’ ”

"Pruitt-igoe: and as a bonus which I didn't even realize until I cogitated on this a bit more, the subject of the story didn't even contract HIV intentionally.

I can't believe I skipped that before. This is an absolute liberal ragebait bingo, since HIV is practically the nuclear weapon of any discussion fodder on that side like "terrorists" or "the children" are to the right wing.


READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE:

The Men Who Want AIDS—and How It Improved Their Lives
8.8.2013

'Don’t take no meds, don’t go to a doctor. And that’s what I did. I sabotaged myself to get my numbers down.'

One of the ways in which HASA works is that recipients have to have a T-cell count below 200 — the level at which AIDS is diagnosed — to be eligible for benefits, encouraging potential recipients to let their health deteriorate to dangerous levels. Fortner sums up his own process of coaxing his HIV into full-blown AIDS as: “Don’t take no meds, don’t go to a doctor. And that’s what I did. I sabotaged myself to get my numbers down.”

The plan worked. In 2008 he became eligible for housing, financial aid, free healthcare, and food stamps. Once he reached entitlement he could keep his benefits even if his health improved, so he started taking his pills.
posted by klangklangston at 5:13 PM on August 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


So, no, not lazy journalism per se: Lazy readers getting indignant about being lazy readers.
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]



How can happiness be an option for any halfway empathetic person given how fucking horrible things are for many of our fellow human beings?

Annie Hall: Alvy, you're incapable of enjoying life, you know that? I mean you're like New York City. You're just this person. You're like this island unto yourself.
Alvy Singer: I can't enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.


I know how this feels, but Alvy's opinion isn't a good template for life. I think about it often though.
posted by sweetkid at 5:42 PM on August 14, 2013


So, no, not lazy journalism per se: Lazy readers getting indignant about being lazy readers.

Anywayzers, though, these are anecdotes, as noted above, and truthy as they may feel, they imply more about the "perverse incentives" of having HIV/AIDS than they do people actively bug-chasing. It's a sad commentary that having HIV may improve things (short term) for some people in extremely dire straits, but this does not = a trend of people actively seeking to catch HIV/AIDS. There's really nothing here that shows that. It's a big claim! It's political dynamite for liberals and conservatives alike. So is it verifiable? No -- and that's the best kind of political dynamite! Can't prove it, can't disprove it, means whatever you want, it's great.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:59 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Klang, to your second RTFA, he says he didn't take the pills to convert his HIV to AIDS by getting sicker. The entire ragebait premise of this article is that healthy, non HIV+ individuals are infecting themselves. While it's fucked up that someone would let their HIV convert to AIDS just to get assistance, it's a bit different than "people are intentionally infecting themselves while 100% healthy to gain benefits".

I read the fucking article, i saw that part. The description of this FPP and the premise of the article present it as, like i said, healthy people contracting HIV and then AIDS to get benefits, not people who were already HIV+ letting it slip in to AIDS. The first is much more outrage-baity than people who were already infected, and non intentionally infected at that, just letting themselves get sicker. I definitely agree that's fucked up, but claiming that the "little details don't matter" or something since it's like, similar enough is doing that whole cherry-picking facts to create a narrative thing that pisses me off a lot.

To your first RTFA,

I see nothing there that challenges the point i was making. Every single one of those pull-quotes and the balance quote(which if anything, backs my point up. Not that a government agency who would find this type of thing embarrassing going "urr durr i haven't heard anything" really means that much to be fair). It's people in the system saying they've heard of this happening or watched it happen.

Go talk to some of those people they mention in aggregate if you want a truly powerful article.

One guy who let his HIV convert to aids, but who didn't intentionally infect himself with that plan, and a few social workers who say they've seen people go "yay i can get help now" or have maybe sort heard of some guy a friend of a friend said might have done it intentionally after his friend got benefits is not a solid soapbox to stand on.

All the puzzle pieces are at the very least available here to make a good article that wouldn't be so easy to lambast in this way, but this one just isn't doing it for me. Nothing you pulled for me to "fucking read" seems to counter any of the points i was making if you take more than a cursory glance at them. Especially the second RTFA which i addressed first.

I am not a lazy reader here. I went in to this fully expected to be shocked and appalled with a rocket launcher blasting truly damming evidence at me. What i got was warmed up leftovers of what i honestly believe is something pretty damn fucked up, but that could use a bit more investigative journalism with some rigor to really be as unassailable as possible to blow the lid clean off this thing.

Go talk to 3 or 4 people who have actually done exactly this that these social workers/support center staff/the guy they interviewed knows. That kind of thing. I'm in no way saying i don't believe this is a serious issue or that there isn't enough proof for me to dole out my tiny dose of sympathy here, this is fucked up. But there really should be some solid from the horses mouth shit going on here instead of just a guy who was already sick but let himself get sicker and some guys some people know who apparently did what the primary focus of the article is supposed to be about.

The perverse incentives are beyond plausible, but i still feel like this was rushed with what they had before it was fully baked. Or just pushed out by some freshly graduated journalism student who was super exited to have a damning scoop. Is no one else getting that feeling here? Do you really not see where i'm coming from klang?
posted by emptythought at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Klang, to your second RTFA, he says he didn't take the pills to convert his HIV to AIDS by getting sicker. The entire ragebait premise of this article is that healthy, non HIV+ individuals are infecting themselves. While it's fucked up that someone would let their HIV convert to AIDS just to get assistance, it's a bit different than "people are intentionally infecting themselves while 100% healthy to gain benefits"."

…your invented ragebait premise rests on that, yeah, but that's your fault, not the fucking article's. When the subhead is about how this one guy turned his HIV to AIDS by not taking his meds, it's dumb to pretend that the article is misrepresenting that.

"people are intentionally infecting themselves while 100% healthy to gain benefits"."

That's your quote. It appears nowhere in the fucking article. So, don't get mad that shit you made up to disagree with isn't in the article.

"The description of this FPP and the premise of the article present it as, like i said, healthy people contracting HIV and then AIDS to get benefits, not people who were already HIV+ letting it slip in to AIDS. The first is much more outrage-baity than people who were already infected, and non intentionally infected at that, just letting themselves get sicker. I definitely agree that's fucked up, but claiming that the "little details don't matter" or something since it's like, similar enough is doing that whole cherry-picking facts to create a narrative thing that pisses me off a lot.

No, it's not claiming that the details don't matter — it's understanding the details of the claims made by the FPP and the article. Not inventing ones to get pissed off about.

"I see nothing there that challenges the point i was making.

Your whole point was that these anecdotes were worthless because of some made-up bullshit you decided the article was repping. You said, "If you're going to bring out something that outrageous, you better be able to back it up with more than "we talked to this guy who told stories about a few people he had met whose first names he maybe remembers," which is a bullshit misrepresentation of the story. They talked to several credible sources who supported the narrative of this being more than just one guy, and used that to highlight the perverse incentives. That's the article that actually exists. The one you're complaining about doesn't.

"One guy who let his HIV convert to aids, but who didn't intentionally infect himself with that plan, and a few social workers who say they've seen people go "yay i can get help now" or have maybe sort heard of some guy a friend of a friend said might have done it intentionally after his friend got benefits is not a solid soapbox to stand on."

Man, it's fucking galling to see you complaining about overrepresenting the facts to make an article or headline by making up bullshit. They didn't say they had maybe heard of some guy; the first expert quoted says he can name five that he knows of personally. That's you inventing snark to cover your laziness.

"Nothing you pulled for me to "fucking read" seems to counter any of the points i was making if you take more than a cursory glance at them. Especially the second RTFA which i addressed first."

Yeah, it does. Whether you're too lazy or too sloppy to realize that doesn't matter. You assumed a premise based on a lazy reading of the FPP and article, then wanted to piss and moan about it. Those quotes give the lie to your lazy rendering.

"I am not a lazy reader here. I went in to this fully expected to be shocked and appalled with a rocket launcher blasting truly damming evidence at me."

"I am not a lazy reader. I went in with preconceived notions based on a misreading of the headline and FPP and didn't find that as confirmed as I would have liked." Your fault, bucko.

"Go talk to 3 or 4 people who have actually done exactly this that these social workers/support center staff/the guy they interviewed knows."

Yeah, HIV+ LGBT people who are happy they got AIDS are totes easy to get to speak publicly, because there's no stigma about any of that. I know, why don't they get several of the service providers who deal with that population to talk about it, and one person to build an anecdotal feature theme out of?

OH WAIT BRO RTFA! IT'S ALL THERE!

"But there really should be some solid from the horses mouth shit going on here instead of just a guy who was already sick but let himself get sicker and some guys some people know who apparently did what the primary focus of the article is supposed to be about. "

The premise of the article is that it's fucked up that people will intentionally get AIDS as a perverse incentive to get access to social services. The main focus of the article is a guy who got AIDS by letting his t-cell count drop from HIV.

"The perverse incentives are beyond plausible, but i still feel like this was rushed with what they had before it was fully baked. Or just pushed out by some freshly graduated journalism student who was super exited to have a damning scoop. Is no one else getting that feeling here? Do you really not see where i'm coming from klang?"

I'm getting that you went into the article with your mind made up and are now having some sort of rage-remorse because you found out that if you actually read the article, the claims are more modest than you thought they would be, so now you're complaining about a standard of proof that's irrelevant. I understand where you're coming from perfectly well, you're just wrong in your contentions. Sorry.
posted by klangklangston at 6:37 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the writer of this article thinks they're doing youth who may be bug-chasing a favor by writing about it, but I think it's quite the opposite. It doesn't take a Rush Limbaugh to be surprised and even possibly perturbed that the HIV+ homeless population is being provided with free medical care, housing, food, and other assistance while, say, single homeless mothers still struggle to find family housing.

Every dollar spent on one person is a dollar taken or not going to someone else somewhere. Articles like this one provide good justification, at least from one perspective, for decreasing, not increasing, services available for HIV+ homeless individuals.

I am actually genuinely curious about this though. When did this (the housing, aid, healthcare, etc) come into being? I've lived in NYC a long time and have never heard of it before.
posted by corb at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It doesn't take a Rush Limbaugh to be surprised and even possibly perturbed that the HIV+ homeless population is being provided with free medical care, housing, food, and other assistance while, say, single homeless mothers still struggle to find family housing. "

Guess what? The answer is more money for social services, not less, which is what I feel confident Limbaugh would recommend.

"Every dollar spent on one person is a dollar taken or not going to someone else somewhere. Articles like this one provide good justification, at least from one perspective, for decreasing, not increasing, services available for HIV+ homeless individuals."

First off, conceiving money as purely zero sum is a simplistic framing that does more harm than good. Confounders included the multiplicative effect of investment, the social costs of externalities created by funding (or reducing funding), the inability to accurately value future returns, etc. It also promulgates the false theory that it is impossible to increase the pool of money to serve both populations.

Further, the fundamental idiocy of the conservative response here is that the answer to a bad situation is not to make everything worse to even it out. That's like shooting your other foot to avoid listing to one side.
posted by klangklangston at 7:01 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only way to help myself is to hurt myself. And it's really sad that anyone would feel that way today. Politics aside, the fact that anyone would be better off being sick than being well is a huge problem. I don't know where that problem originates, I just know that it is one.
posted by one4themoment at 7:24 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is one thing i'm sure we can agree on klang, the absolute lack of logic in that shooting the other foot shit. It's like

1. Take a system that's working, or some place or place+population that needs a social support system
2. Underfund it, or only fund it in one really narrow way.
3. When it fails, declare it a boondoggle and cut funding since it wasn't accomplishing it's goal, ignoring all pleas that what either that specific system needs is more money not less and painting them as some kind of bourgeois whining of people who are complicit in milking the system.

I don't know what step 4 is, but i think it involves america regressing in to a developing/3rd world country.

I could also get in to how asinine it is that every even mid-sized city seems to have several "socialized" medical offices that treat on a sliding scale from either $0 or essentially nothing(like $5) to very cheap depending on your income, often with onsite pharmacies, dental offices, etc and yet single payer is satan. Municipalities and cities have grassrooted this shit on their own and are somehow funding it, meaning there's some amount of general socialized medicine for the homeless-working class in a lot of cities.(although often with depressing limitations along the lines of "we only pull teeth, we don't do general dental maintenance")

I wonder how long it'll be before that gets shutdown in my city as "ineffective" every time i walk by the place.

As for the criticisms of my post, i'm just gonna plead nolo contendre. I think i had a point in there somewhere, and you think i was going in with preconceived notions(which i'll acknowledge). I still think the way this is being pushed is mildly hyperbolic regardless.
posted by emptythought at 8:53 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


What in the world is pushing your buttons so much about this, klang? Your response is a bit over the top here.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:03 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This all makes perfectly good sense. The sense of it, that is. The situation is horrible, but just seems like reality to me.

But it goes beyond benefits to folks in need. I lost my first partner in 1988 to a sudden heart attack. And I will never forget telling some people about loosing my partner, and they being all sympathetic and supportive, right up until they found out it was not AIDS. Then I was suddenly too ordinary/boring for their attention.
posted by Goofyy at 3:45 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Comment removed - don't Godwin this thread arguing with other users.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2013


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