August 22, 2010

August 22, 2010
Senator Nelson’s Call For
Robust Federal ADAP Funding

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a safe and great weekend. Dab the AIDS Bear is on the road again at events in Oregon and Minnesota this weekend.

As you know from reading my blog, Dab the AIDS Bear and I have made several trips to Washington DC this year to meet with our elected officials concerning ADAP and Ryan White funding. Well we finally have some great news from Senator Nelson.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is urging the United States Senate leaders to do more in terms of federal funding for the struggling AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). In a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Florida Senator acknowledges proposed federal increases to ADAP for next year but comments that more must be done and urged him to join in support of robust funding for programs like ADAP that offer real hope to Americans enduring the throes of this debilitating disease.

As the Senator noted, ADAPs around the country, including most notably Florida, are facing severe funding crises due to the state budget pressure from the economic downturn and require a greater commitment from the federal government. There are currently nearly 3,000 people across the country on ADAP waiting lists, with 1,178 being in the State of Florida. The situation is getting worse each and every week and without additional funding, more people will be without ADAP drugs.

Florida HIV/AIDS advocates from around the state, including representatives of The AIDS Institute, the Florida HIV/AIDS Advocacy Network (FHAAN) and national organizations such as the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, have been meeting with the Senator’s office over the last couple of months to brief him on the Florida ADAP crisis. Upon hearing the situation in Florida, the Senator expressed alarm and gave me his commitment that he would work on potential solutions. This letter to the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee is a great start. Now we must make sure he will continue to follow through as the Congress finalizes the ADAP funding level for next year and the years to come.

“We realize that ADAP is primarily a federally funded program, but the State of Florida plays a critical role as well,” added Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. “In addition to calling on our representatives in the Congress, we call on the Governor and the State Legislature to increase the state contribution to Florida’s ADAP this year in a special session of the legislature,” added Ruppal.

So we can begin to hope the current crisis in Florida will finally start to be addressed on a national and state level before men and women on the ADAP waiting lists have to pay with their lives.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab