US: San Juan mayor struggles to help people with HIV/AIDS

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz the Washington Blade conducted on Nov. 1, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in D.C.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Wednesday said her government is doing everything it can to help people with HIV/AIDS in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Carmen Yulín Cruz noted to the Washington Blade during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center there is a clinic for adults and children with AIDS in San Juan. She said officials “stocked up” on medications and other supplies before Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast on Sept. 20 with 155 mph winds.

“We bought a lot of medication which we may or may not be able to get reimbursed for, but who cares,” Yulín told the Blade. “We would have not been able to keep people alive if we had not done that.”

She said the clinic — which the San Juan Department of Health operates — reopened two weeks after Maria made landfall. Yulín told the Blade it was not operating “at its full capacity, but (it was) at least dispensing medication to people.”

“When you keep dialysis away from people or cancer treatment or AIDS treatments, you’re taking away their livelihood,” she said.

Yulín said her government is also working with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to identify people with HIV/AIDS who need generators and bring them to their homes “in order to keep (them) living with oxygen and so forth.” She told the Blade the clinic also gives them food and water when they pick up their medications or see their doctor. Read more via Washington Blade