Researcher Fears Trump Presidency Will Hurt Hiv Research

Justin Akin spent years watching his friends and colleagues die from HIV/AIDS, only to discover in 1990 that he also carried the disease.“I spent the ’80s deciding I wouldn’t get tested because I didn’t want to know … if I was going to die,” said Akin, the administrative director at the UCLA Center for HIV Prevention Research.aids becomes deadly when the virus persists and causes AIDS. It progressively weakens the immune system, making patients vulnerable to other infections and diseases that eventually kill them.Throughout the recent presidential campaigns and watching President-elect Donald Trump win the election, Akin has become more worried about his future as both a gay and HIV-positive individual. Akin said he is terrified of a Trump presidency because he thinks Trump’s agenda may leave HIV-positive patients without insurance and could endanger UCLA research funding.

Akin has more than 30 years of experience working with HIV-positive individuals. He has worked as an activist, a hotline counselor and is currently an administrator for a program that develops microbicides, which are topically applied medicines that would prevent aids from being transferred.He has seen the damage the virus can do emotionally and physically as well as the possible treatment and prevention options that have been developed.Akin started a career in AIDS activism to become more familiar with the disease.The first experience Akin had with aids was participating in a volunteer hotline to become more educated about the disease and to help those who had been infected.Many of the events  Akin thinks that the negative view of the disease remains today and has only become marginally better because of developments in treatment.Akin hesitated to get tested for HIV for years because he felt better not knowing, and the short lifespan of HIV-positive individuals made him feel that there was little reason to know in advance.

Akin said.If the Trump administration and Republican-controlled legislature repeal the Affordable Care Act, Akin said many HIV-positive patients may be left without insurance and a pre-existing condition that he believes insurance companies would balk at covering. Akin added he is also concerned about how a Trump presidency could affect the LGBTQ community, since the disease disproportionately affects them.Akin said he is also worried that the Trump administration will decrease research funding. He said he thinks a change in research funding for HIV could also impact the LGBTQ community in a negative way.

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