May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010
Death on South Carolina ADAP List


Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and I hope you have had a safe and great week. If you have been reading my blog this week, it has not been a great one for me.

Now do not get me wrong. I can not complain health wise all things considered. At least I have health insurance and can get the medications and services I need to keep myself alive. But other people are not so lucky. As I mentioned yesterday, Florida will be starting our first ADAP waiting list on June 1st unless Dab the AIDS Bear and I along with other activists can get the Governor to do something.

But for at least one person on the US ADAP waiting lists, it is too late.

NEXT THURSDAY: PEOPLE LIVING WITH AIDS WILL RALLY AND PRAY TO STOP THE DYING AND END WAITING LISTS FOR HIV/AIDS DRUGS

In response to the recent confirmed death of at least one South Carolinian with AIDS who was on the state-mandated waiting list for medications, and amid rumors of other such deaths, hundreds of people living with AIDS and their supporters will rally and pray on the statehouse grounds in Columbia on Thursday, May 27 at the “Stephanie Williams’ Memorial Rally for Life” to demand emergency funding to save lives and end the wait list.

Stephanie Williams, of Bamberg , SC , was a local AIDS activist who spent the last 15 years of her life fighting for justice for people living with HIV/AIDS. Sadly, Ms. Williams lost her life in October of 2007. However, her spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of those who intend to carry on this fight for justice in her name.

South Carolina currently ranks 8th in the nation in the rate of AIDS. Yet, as of September 2010, approximately 900 people in South Carolina may potentially lose access to these life-saving drugs.

ADAP provides AIDS medications under the Ryan White CARE Act to people living with HIV/AIDS nationwide, who are uninsured or under-insured. This vital federal-state program, on the national level, faces a $126 million shortfall for fiscal year 2010, just to keep pace with current demand. That shortfall is currently fueling the growth of these waiting lists, now at 1,056 Americans - including 81 people in South Carolina (as of May 10th, according to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors). Rising prices, the poor economy and budget cuts to the program from state governments have further fueled the crisis, creating the “perfect storm” for those dependent on this program for their very lives.

In March, state officials set up a waiting list for ADAP, citing funding shortfalls. The waiting list for care has grown quickly, and many people with AIDS here are either going without treatment or getting inadequate care.

“We appreciate our state’s current financial woes,” said Karen Bates of Columbia , a member of SC-C2EA and a woman living with HIV/AIDS. “But what we cannot understand is how our state can justify supporting the funding of a golf tournament when people are dying for lack of life-saving medications.”

Bates and other people living with AIDS, service providers, faith-leaders and activists will hold a rally at the State Capitol on Thursday to ask for emergency funding to end the waiting list. And they’re working for more state and federal funding to resolve the crisis over the long term.

“The first thing we need is for our legislature to provide emergency monies in the state budget for ADAP,” said Bates. “The second thing we need is for Governor Sanford to approve such a budget and stop this needless death and suffering.”

Activists are also asking the federal government for emergency funding and are working with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices for the ADAP program, but need the emergency state funds to save lives now.

South Carolina advocates will be joined in Thursday’s rally by people living with HIV/AIDS traveling from North Carolina , which currently has one of the longest ADAP wait lists in the country.

“The whole world will soon know that our government is letting us die,” said Ms. Bates. “The ironic thing is that providing prescription medications to poor people living with AIDS actually saves the state money by keeping people well, out of the hospital and able to care for their families”, said Bates. “Consistently taking medications also means that people with HIV are less infectious, so it prevents the spread of the disease. Money for ADAP provides a huge ‘bang for the buck’. HIV/AIDS affects whole communities, and we’ll all be out together on Thursday to pray for an end to it”.

Photo opportunity: Hundreds of activists, family members, service providers and clergy; creative signs, banners and flags.

South Carolina Campaign to End AIDS (SC-C2EA) is South Carolina ' s largest volunteer-run AIDS advocacy group led by people living with HIV. People living with HIV/AIDS (and their many supporters) formed this statewide advocacy network in 2005 in order to work to ensure medical, housing, prevention, support services and social justice for all people living with HIV/AIDS.

To learn more about “The Stephanie Williams’ Memorial Walk for Life”, ADAP waiting lists or the South Carolina Campaign to End AIDS, please contact Karen Bates by phone at (803) 750-5259 or email at scaplwa@aol.com, with the subject line “SC ADAP Rally”.

An American life is a horrible thing to waste. Please contact your elected officials about ADAP waiting lists today and help save the lives of men and women with HIV and AIDS.

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

big bear hug,



Daddy Dab