June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010
Florida Starts ADAP Waiting List

Welcome to the beginning of another month of my life. Today is Tuesday and June 1st. I hope you had a safe and great Memorial Day weekend.

I wish I was starting the month off with better news but unfortunately Florida is starting their first ADAP waiting list. For those of you who do not know ADAP stands for AIDS Drug Assistance Program which helps financially challenged Americans with HIV and AIDS pay for their life saving anti-HIV medications.

While I am outraged and advocate against ADAP waiting lists in any state of our country, it is especially upsetting we are starting an ADAP waiting list in my home state. See I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida and while I may have spent a majority of my adulthood in California; I have been back in Florida since 2000.

So why is Florida starting an ADAP waiting list now when they have never had one before you might ask? Well there are several reasons.

First, our country is still in a recession as all of us know. Florida is dependent on the taxes and income tourists bring into our area. So the combination of fewer people traveling and also Florida having the highest unemployment rate it has had in decades have lead to unprecedented loss of revenue for our state. Because of the loss of revenue, our elected officials have been going through our state budget with a big red pen to cut corners and that usually starts with public services including Department of Health.

Secondly, our state started a waiting list for AICP (AIDS Insurance Continuation Program) over a year ago. So when Floridians with HIV and AIDS lost their job and needed help covering their insurance premiums or COBRA; there was no way to help them. The saddest part is for every dollar spent through AICP there is a return to services of five dollars. So our elected officials cut their own throats by not funding AICP more dollars. Once those Floridians lost their health insurance they had to apply to ADAP to continue getting their life saving anti-HIV medications which caused a twenty five percent increase in enrollment to our state ADAP program.

Third is the fact our own HIV/AIDS community has become complacent. Most of the people living with HIV and AIDS today were not positive before Ryan White funding started in 1989. In fact, most people living with the virus today were not positive before we discovered the life saving anti-HIV medications which came out in 1995. So our community has forgotten how many people used to die horrible deaths from complications due to AIDS and many of them do not know the history of HIV and AIDS.

Other states like Illinois have warned they may also have to start ADAP waiting lists. Many other states are having to do cost containment measures which may include not offering all the anti-HIV medications available today. Other states including Florida will only pay for anti-HIV medications only. The problem with that is HIV and AIDS causes many other problems like heart disease, mental health problems and increased risk of cancer and strokes.

So I am hoping this is a wake up call to people in our country living with HIV and AIDS. I am hoping Americans who are HIV negative and our allies, friends and/or family will also wake up and help. We all need to raise our voices about needless deaths of Americans.

If we can send the amount of funding and anti-HIV medications to our country, we should not have waiting lists in our own country. I am not saying other countries do not need help with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I am just saying we should be taking care of our own people first.

Those are my thoughts. What about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab