Lucy Bradley-Springer, PhD, RN, ACRN, FAAN, is an Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine where she was the Principal Investigator and Director of the Mountain Plains AIDS Education and Training Center. Dr. Bradley-Springer is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a member of the International Academy of Nurse Editors, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. She is a Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps and a past president of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. Dr. Bradley-Springer recently resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in protest of the health care policies of this administration.
How did you come to get involved in HIV/AIDS care?
I am a nurse and I got involved in HIV work by accident. I was working in a hospital doing in-service education half time. I was bored and working more than half time for no additional pay. I knew I could be a good educator if I only had something important to focus on. One day I was eating lunch in the cafeteria with some of my colleagues and a physician came up and said he had a new grant to provide education about HIV to health care providers. He knew we were all educators and he said he hoped we would consider the opportunity to work on the grant. After he left I asked is anyone else was interested in the job. I was the only one who was excited about it, so I applied. I got the job and spent the next 27 years teaching/managing/directing the AIDS Education and Training Centers in Albuquerque and then in Denver.
Tell us about your work with the Presidential Advisory County on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
I was honored to be appointed to PACHA by President Obama during the last two years of his term. During those two years, I worked on committees and with the entire Council on topics related to stigma, prevention, data collection and assessment, and – probably most importantly – to review and revise the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2015. I worked with amazing people and had opportunities to contribute to the greater good through the group effort.
Why did you resign?
I resigned five months into the current administration. I had stayed on the council because I thought I could help to make a difference from the inside, even though I was worried about the repercussions of the election. After watching the rhetoric of the campaign evolve into reality, including terrible appointments, bad policy decisions, and the continuing push to reverse advances made during the Obama administration, however, I made the decision that I could not stay on a presidential council under this president. I had the opportunity to resign with five colleagues and we were able to bring attention to the problems being caused by this administration for people living with, and at risk for, HIV infection.
The list of things I am concerned about is long. I care about the rights of stigmatized groups including GLBTQ, women, racial and ethnic minorities, people who live in poverty, drug users and children. But what it finally boiled down to for me was health care. We need universal and comprehensive health care in this country. Without it the HIV epidemic will continue, poor health and poverty will go hand in hand, and the health of the entire nation will suffer.
With so much uncertainty going on in public policy and in healthcare, where do you see signs of hope and opportunities?
Right now, it is hard to see signs of hope, especially as Congress continues to try to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am heartened, however, by the actions of many people in the United States who have provided a loud voice of opposition to the actions of some of our elected officials. I am proud of the Senators and Representatives who have stood up against these actions and who are fighting to make sure that people who need health care can access it.
I have great hopes. I hope that the electorate will continue to speak out to block inappropriate legislation and to take their concerns to the ballot box. I hope that before too much longer, we will see improvements to the ACA that will assure health insurance at reasonable rates for everyone in the country, including immigrants and people at the lowest levels of poverty.
I hope that we will see better coverage for family planning, including birth control and safe abortion when needed. I hope that children will have access to the vaccines and primary health care that they need so that they can grow up healthy and well educated. Foremost in my mind, I hope to see the end of the HIV epidemic. I know all of these things can happen through hard work, advocacy, and political activism.