Tampa, FL - In an unprecedented move in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in the United States, the State of Florida is moving 6,500 low-income people from its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). The Florida ADAP program currently serves about 10,000 people across the state but officials say they only have enough money left to support roughly 3,500 patients until April 1, 2011 when new federal dollars are expected.
"This is devastating," stated Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "Efforts to fill the financial gap from additional state or federal sources have yielded nothing. We are in a perfect storm with the loss of jobs and health insurance, increased infections and increased diagnoses through expanded testing programs, while at the same time State and Federal governments are cutting their budgets." Ruppal continued, "We are risking peoples' lives with the potential of treatment interruptions that dramatically increase their chances of becoming resistant to the same drugs that are currently saving their lives."
ADAP's provide HIV-related medications to uninsured and under-insured people living with HIV/AIDS or about one-quarter of the people with HIV/AIDS estimated to be receiving care in the U.S. ADAP is part of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which is funded by both federal and state resources. Receiving medications daily is critical to effective AIDS treatment.
The ADAP crisis is not unique to Florida. Ten states have instituted waiting lists to receive medications from the program. Of the over 5,550 people on waiting lists, Florida's is the largest with 2,879. Wait lists are just one measure of how a state ADAP is doing. States are also reducing their eligibility, and in the process, actually disenrolling patients from the program, and reducing their formularies.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida stated in recent letters to President Obama and Florida Governor Rick Scott, "These events make it clear that the current federal funding level for the ADAP program is not enough to ensure the program's viability during this period of economic turmoil." He went on to say, "I will also encourage state officials to work with your administration to ensure that Florida's ADAP program is administered properly and that all money is spent as efficiently as possible." Nelson also requested that Scott "find additional state resources to keep the program fully operating."
Florida officials, in an attempt to prevent treatment interruptions to patients, announced their plan for the 6,500 patients to receive their medications from a pharmaceutical sponsored charity for the next 6-8 weeks. Ruppal stated, "This charity program was established to provide a temporary safety net for those patients who are on wait lists. It is supported by donated medications by many pharmaceutical companies but was never intended to handle the volume and scale of this crisis. We need long lasting solutions."
In the last Congress, funding proposals by the House of Representatives called for an increase in ADAP of $60 million for fiscal year 2011, while the Senate proposed an increase of $65 million. Unfortunately, Congress did not pass a full year spending bill and the government is operating on a continuing resolution at current funding levels.
"There are rallying cries from many members of the new Congress to significantly cut spending," stated Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "The ADAP program cannot afford to be cut; too many lives are at stake."
A twenty percent cut to the program would translate into removing over 19,100 people across the country from the program. Even with level funding, the situation would continue to be grave since ADAP utilization continues to skyrocket.
"We need states such as Florida and the U.S. Congress to protect ADAP from any cuts. Additionally we need Congress to increase funding by at least the $65 million that was proposed by the Senate for FY11. We also need the Obama Administration to forcefully insist on these increases in addition to proposing adequate increases in FY12 and relay the urgency of this request to the Congress as they deliberate next year's spending bill," stated Schmid.
We are living in challenging times with record budget deficits and there is a call for spending freezes and cuts. In the process, programs must be prioritized and protected from cuts. For the sake of the over 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in our own country, ADAP must be one of those programs.
For more information and to become involved, please contact
The AIDS Institute at: (202) 835-8373, or by email at: Info@theaidsinstitute.org or www.TheAIDSInstitute.org
The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.
Patients who need HIV/AIDS drugs but can't afford them could be in danger of
going without if the Florida program that supplies the drugs runs out of
money as threatened by mid-February, state officials said Wednesday.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program has a $14.5 million funding gap that could
last until the new funding year begins April 1.
``We're running out of money, and we're trying to help the patients through
this six-week gap,'' said Tom Liberti, chief of the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the
Florida Department of Health. ``We're exploring all our options.''
But Liberti said he's ``99 percent of the way'' toward working out an
agreement in which major drug manufacturers will supply drugs to tide over
Locally, the Miami-Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership, which advises the county on
AIDS matters, will hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss whether to
reduce the number of nonessential drugs available to AIDS patients while
keeping them supplied with life-saving antiretroviral medicine.
Doctors say it's important for newly diagnosed HIV patients to get
antiretroviral drugs quickly to keep them from progressing toward AIDS and
to reduce the chance of infecting others.
In Florida, ADAP has been providing drugs to 10,600 patients, with 3,000 of
them in Miami-Dade and Broward. Short of money last year, the state on June
1, 2010, started putting new patients on a waiting list that now has an
additional 2,800 people, including 685 in Miami-Dade and 475 in Broward,
Patients on the waiting list have been receiving antiretroviral drugs from
major pharmaceutical companies' charity ``Patient Assistance Programs,'' but
in some cases have been unable to get ``nonessential'' drugs that treat side
``At present, no patients are doing without AIDS drugs,'' said Dan Wall,
director of the Miami-Dade Office of Grants Coordination. But he said
funding could run out by mid-February unless a solution is found. On April
1, another $100 million in federal AIDS drugs funding arrives in Florida,
Help may be on the way through Wellvista, a South Carolina nonprofit
organization. The group, acting on behalf of medical manufacturers, helps
provide drugs to patients who can't afford them. ``We have nearly every
major manufacturer -- Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb and
others,'' said Jeffrey Lewis, president of Heinz Family Philanthropies,
which is working with the drug companies.
Also, state Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, and others are working to
persuade the Florida Legislature to provide money to help support the ADAP
program, Liberti said.
Liberti blamed the poor economy and a list of applicants that has grown by
25 percent since 2008 to reach 13,000 people statewide. In 2009, the
Legislature cut ADAP support by $1 million to $10.5 million. No additional
funding was appropriated in 2010.
President Barack Obama has proposed an increase of $20 million for 2011,
while the AIDS Institute and others are calling for an increase of $126
million. The federal government provides 49 percent of ADAP funding, down
from 69 percent in 2000.
While funding is being worked out, the Miami-Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership may
have to recommend temporary restrictions on certain nonessential medications
like vitamins and aspirin, a spokeswoman said.
On Friday, the Partnership will hold an emergency meeting at the Behavioral
Science Research building, 2121 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, to
discuss such restrictions and how to deal with the financial crisis. The meeting is open to the public.
Call 305-443-2000 for information.
The level of concern and awareness about HIV is perhaps unsurprising given the severity of the AIDS epidemic within the black population. Though such surveys reveal higher levels of awareness among African Americans about HIV and AIDS, there are troubling signs that this is decreasing. Between 2004 and 2009, the proportion of black Americans who said they had seen, heard or read a lot about AIDS in the past year declined by almost half from 62% to 33%.48
A significant proportion of African Americans do not blame the spread of HIV on risky sexual behaviour, but instead hold the government responsible. 48% of African-Americans surveyed by Oregon State University researchers between 2002 and 2003 believed that HIV was a man-made virus. Over half (53%) believed that there was a cure for AIDS that was being withheld from the poor, and 27% thought AIDS was produced in a government laboratory. 12% thought that HIV was created and spread by the CIA and 15% thought it was a form of genocide against blacks.49
Such beliefs are perhaps understandable given the context of prejudice and exploitation that many black Americans have grown up with. Indeed, those that were found to have the most extreme conspiracy theory views in the study were unsurprisingly those that had encountered the most racism in their lives. Some cited the infamous ‘Tuskegee’ experiment as the basis for their beliefs. Conducted by the US government between 1932 and 1972, the study aimed to investigate the natural course of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis in the black population. Over 600 black men were enrolled, many of whom were infected with syphilis, but none were ever offered treatment. Many died as a consequence, fuelling outrage throughout the black community, and beyond.50
Such unethical practices have left a scar on the African American population that may never fully disappear. The conspiracy theories that they have given rise to also pose a serious risk to HIV prevention strategies, as they place the blame for infection elsewhere, and can stop individuals from taking responsibility for their own actions.51
It was two years ago today that Barack and I were sworn in, and I remember what he said like it was this morning:
"The challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met."
Even then, we knew it would take time. We knew it would be hard. And we knew we would sometimes make mistakes.
But we did not lose sight of what we came to do.
Together, we took on difficult issues that had been put off for decades. And some say we have accomplished more in two years than any administration since Roosevelt's.
Take it from me, that's something you should take to heart -- because none of it would have been possible without your hard work.
But the job's not done.
I am reminded of that every time I travel to the small towns in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Mexico -- all over -- and on the weekends I get home to Delaware. I meet folks who are still struggling, who want to know when the recovery will start to turn things around for their family.
These people are why we can't quit.
And moving forward with this new Congress, we will need to defend what we've achieved together as aggressively as we pursue the goals that remain.
I believe in the power of public service because I've seen what it has done throughout our country's history to combat social and economic injustice. And I am proud to say it's a story that continues in the remarkable progress we've made in the past two years. To tell it, Organizing for America has written Promises Kept.
Take a look at the Promises Kept report of all the work we've done in two years -- you can download a copy or have a few sent to you to share with friends.
There's a whole lot to be proud of.
Of course, the big ones come to mind first: historic health insurance reform, which is reining in the insurance companies and helping control the cost of care for millions of Americans; Wall Street reform, which put in place the toughest consumer protections ever; and the end of combat operations in Iraq, which brought more than 100,000 troops home.
And there is so much more you've helped achieve that is right now improving lives across the country:
-- We passed the Recovery Act, which saved and created more than 3 million jobs, provided the largest middle-class tax cut in a generation, and made landmark investments in clean energy, infrastructure, and education.
-- We made critical investments in General Motors and Chrysler, saving tens of thousands of jobs -- and perhaps the companies -- and spurring a rebirth of the American car industry.
-- We wrote into law student loan reform and credit card reform, which ended the worst abuses of the banking industries and are making lending fair for American families.
-- We put two new Supreme Court justices on the bench -- Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who bring rich and diverse experience to the Court.
-- We have begun to reset America's relationship with the international community, from the ratification of a new START nuclear arms treaty with Russia to tough new sanctions on Iran to strengthening our long-term partnership with a unified Iraq.
-- And we finally repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was the right thing to do -- not only because it makes our military stronger at a time when it needs to be the strongest, but because we are seeking that military might with an abiding sense of justice.
Telling the story of the past two years will be critical to the fights ahead. And it's not just the story of this president or this White House -- it's your story.
And it is literally proof that the organizing you do on the ground -- the conversations you have with your friends and neighbors -- is working.
Now, I'm not going to say the last two years were easy -- and I won't tell you the fights ahead are going to get any easier.
But I didn't sign up for a cake walk. And I'm pretty sure you didn't either.
We're here to move our country forward. We're here to lay a new foundation for this country -- for our economy, for our politics, and for our children's and grandchildren's futures.
And, as Barack says, what we will be able to accomplish together is in your hands.
It's how hard we all work, and how well we all tell this story.
Take a few minutes to read Promises Kept -- and let's keep moving:
Thanks for everything,
Remember the National HIV/AIDS Strategy See Below
Every single Republican -- all 242 -- voted for repeal.
This is a vote for insurance companies. There is no other way to put it.
Because if the question is what is best for Americans, repeal would never come up: Health reform is already at work improving the lives of millions of people. Repeal will result in 32 million fewer Americans with health coverage -- and add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
Republicans in Congress need to know there's a political price to pay for siding with special interests over the constituents in their districts.
We're putting together a dedicated team of organizers and volunteers across the country to protect our progress on health reform -- and we need 2 donations from Crystal Springs to make sure they have the resources they need.
Chip in $3 or more to support Organizing for America and help stop repeal before it's too late.
The Affordable Care Act addresses and ends some of the worst insurance-industry abuses against families, children, seniors, and the sick -- the cost of repeal would be steep:
-- Families, many already struggling to get by, could lose their coverage if someone is in an accident or becomes sick -- right when they need it the most.
-- A woman with cancer could have her coverage stripped away because of a tiny mistake on a form.
-- Pregnant women, children born with disabilities, and anyone with a pre-existing condition -- as many as half of Americans under age 65 -- could face discrimination or be denied coverage by an insurance company that deems them too costly.
-- A senior on Medicare who falls in the "donut hole" in prescription coverage would once again have to make up that cost out of pocket -- and start paying for all preventative care.
-- The deficit would increase by $230 billion over the next 10 years -- placing an unfair burden on our children and grandchildren and future generations who will have to pay for this mistake.
-- Insurance companies could go back to working for corporate profit and CEO bonuses -- instead of for the people who pay their premiums.
These cruel and unjust practices are exactly why we organized, donated, volunteered, and spoke out for months, helping to pass legislation 100 years in the making. It's why we worked with the President and Democrats in Congress to reform a broken and unsustainable health care system.
Now, that progress is being threatened -- and we have to do everything we can to protect it.
Organizing for America is running a full-fledged campaign to drive this message home in communities across the country. Our organizers and volunteers will be knocking on doors, writing letters to their local papers, talking to neighbors, and calling their senators.
Support from 2 folks in Crystal Springs will ensure we have the tools and resources we need to counteract and stop the repeal effort.
Please donate $3 or more today:
Organizing for America
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is usually remembered for his heroic leadership of the civil rights movement -- he led the successful Montgomery bus boycott, delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech at a time when such words were still controversial, and ultimately gave his own life to the cause of equality.
But Dr. King was much more than a civil rights champion -- he was a man who lived his entire life in service to others, speaking out against poverty, economic injustice, and violence. Wherever he saw suffering, he did what he could to help, no matter who it was that needed him or why they were in pain. Through his leadership, he showed us what we can accomplish when we stand together.
Each January, we remember Dr. King on his own holiday -- and one of the best ways to preserve his legacy is to engage in service ourselves. As Dr. King told us, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"
That's why this Monday, January 17th, Organizing for America volunteers will be participating in service projects all across the country in Dr. King's honor. There will be food drives, neighborhood clean-ups, education projects, blood drives, and more.
Will you find and sign up for an event in your area, and help make this country an even better place?
This movement is about so much more than politics -- it is about coming together through progress, change, and community. Lifting each other up in dedication and service is one of the best ways not only to honor Dr. King, but to honor each other. By giving service a new role in this country, we can establish a new foundation for our economy and a brighter future for our children.
That is why service is key to achieving our national priorities, and why Barack recently helped out at a Boys and Girls Club service event. Since moving to Washington, D.C., two years ago, he and I have gotten to know the community through similar service projects, including past Martin Luther King Day events. I treasure those opportunities, and I look forward to another one next week. Every time we pitch in, we get so much back, and always learn amazing things from our neighbors.
All of us have something to contribute, and all of us can make a meaningful difference in someone's life. It's a great way to remind others that they are not forgotten, and to remind ourselves that there are always things we can do.
Please help Barack and me honor the legacy of Dr. King, and join us in service to our country once again this year:
This Month in HIV
Guide To Prevention And Care Services For People Living With HIV/AIDS In Mississippi
Dealers United Inc... email us at firstname.lastname@example.orgAdvocacy Agency For People Living With HIV/AIDS...
Our Mission: Provide resources to those that are not informed or misinformed on the dangers of unprotected sex and other health issues concerning Mississippi. We pride ourselves in helping all citizens of the United States of America.
Dealers United Inc. does not discriminate and provides Advocacy services to those suffering from health disparities mainly HIV/AIDS.For a current list of places available in the State of Mississippi for help Click Here