June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011
Ensuring HIV Treatment for All in the USA

Welcome to another day in my life Today is Monday and I hope you had a safe and great weekend. Dab the AIDS Bear and I had an incredibly busy but fantastic weekend which you can read about in the past two blog entries.

We are starting another busy week today. Have a ton of meetings, webinars and other errands to do before we leave for St. Petersburg on Thursday. Looking forward to seeing all our old friends at ASAP (AIDS Service Association of Pinellas County) and meeting new friends while we are there for four days.

We just have to make sure I get to the gym every day and continue my six day split which works out all muscle groups two times a week. Then we also have to make sure I am getting enough rest while doing all the running around we will be doing leading up to Pride on the weekend. St. Petersburg Pride is one of the largest in Florida so it will be very crowded. Dab the AIDS Bear and I will be on the ASAP float and then the booth when we are not walking around taking pictures. So when you see us get your picture taken with the bear in support of people living with HIV and AIDS.

I should have the slide show featuring the pics from Stonewall Pride 2011 in Wilton Manors, Florida ready in the next day or two. So stay tuned for the show from the great event we had this past weekend.

I also just received some ADAP information I would like to share with everyone. From reading my blogs, you know the problems we are having not only in Florida but also 12 other states in the US.

If you are an HIV positive person living in the USA with a low income and no or inadequate health insurance, then AIDS drug assistance programmes (ADAPs) are an important and vital safety net that pay for your treatment. That was until recently.

State run ADAPs, which currently cover around 191 000 Americans, are facing financial difficulties and are struggling to accommodate all those requiring assistance. As of May 12, 8100 people with HIV in 13 states were on waiting lists to join an ADAP, a record number. This is a shockingly high figure for the world’s richest nation but, worryingly, the true scale of the crisis could be much bigger. Several states have been forced to tighten financial eligibility criteria for their programs. On July 1, in Illinois, for example, eligibility for the state’s ADAP will change from a yearly income of US$54,450 to $32,670. And some ADAPs have even scrapped their waiting lists, effectively closing their programs to new patients.

A mix of factors have led to this troubling situation, number one being the economic downturn, which has meant that more people with HIV are unemployed and are in need of assistance. Between June, 2008, and June, 2009, alone, the number of new people who relied on ADAPs for their medication increased by 80%.

The federal government has increased funding for ADAPs by 13% to $1.79 billion in the fiscal year 2010. State funding has also increased by 61% to $346.2 million. And, thanks to negotiations led by the ADAP Crisis Taskforce, 12 drug companies have lowered or frozen the prices of their HIV drugs. Still, these individual measures have not been enough to meet the increasing demand for assistance.

When President Barack Obama’s major health reform, “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” is fully implemented in 2014, pressure on ADAPs will decrease, but until then federal and state governments need to find more funding for these essential programmes. And drug companies that have not reduced their HIV drug prices, or have not guaranteed long-term lowering of prices, must do so without delay. A collective effort is required to solve the ADAP crisis and ensure that every American in need of HIV drugs receives them. – The Lancet June 4, 2011

Hope you have a great start to your week! Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab