May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010
ADAP Crisis Continues

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great one so far. I know it has been an extremely busy one for me.

Everything went as expected at the visit with my HIV doctor. Considering my schedule and stress levels over the ADAP crisis, my counts were as good as I guess they can be. Dr. Schumann and I discussed the politics of what is going on with HIV/AIDS funding in our country. I always enjoy my visits with her because you can tell her heart is in her work.

I was also asked to guest blog for The Body. So I have emailed in my first draft to see what they think. I am waiting to hear if they need any changes or revisions before publishing. The topic was Pride and whether of not LGBT pride is still important and needed. It was very hard to condense thirty years of being a LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist into three pages. I could have easily submitted five or six typed pages without even trying hard.

Unfortunately, I have some more bad news about ADAP funding in our country. Now you know from reading my blog, there are already ten states and over 1,100 people on the ADAP waiting lists. You also know Florida is starting an ADAP waiting list for the first time on June 1, 2010.

As of May 20, there are 1,143 people in 10 US states who are on waiting lists for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), which help low income HIVers who are often uninsured pay for HIV/AIDS medications.

In South Carolina, one person has already died on the waiting list, which has grown to 112 people and the situation there may be getting worse this week. In March, a proposed South Carolina budget cut all funding for ADAP. The budget, which enters a final round of debates yesterday, would also cut money for other health services, such as cancer screenings, and limit Medicaid to cover only three drug prescriptions per person. The South Carolina Campaign to End AIDS rallied in protest of the budget this morning.

More ADAP news is coming in from across the country as states seek to finalize their 2010-11 budgets:

* Florida will institute an ADAP waiting list as of June 1, making it the largest state to require a list so far. While the state has asked for additional federal funding for ADAP, it is also dropping some drugs from its formulary and is considering other cost-cutting measures.

* In Illinois last week, an advisory panel recommended the state close its ADAP to new applicants and begin a waiting list immediately. The recommendation is now being discussed by the state legislature.

* In California , HIV advocates are keeping their fingers crossed: Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed budget does not seem to have anything but a minor impact on ADAP, though it is not yet set in stone. However, nothing in the proposed budget would restore money that was already lost to ADAP last year.

Good news for ADAP is rare, but there has been some this month: The ADAP Crisis Task Force (ACTF) has met with all eight pharmaceutical companies that produce brand name HIV/AIDS medications in the United States and has reached agreements with Abbott, Merck and Tibotec to help ADAPs in need. With this agreement, the companies will increase discounts and rebates and freeze prices on some HIV drugs for ADAPs, as well as improve access to pharmaceutical based patient assistance programs for people left on ADAP waiting lists. ACTF is hopeful about reaching similar agreements with the other companies.

So while the National Call-in date for ADAP Crisis was on Wednesday, I ask you keep calling President Obama and your elected officials and ask for more Ryan White funding including for the ADAP programs. Lives of American men and women with HIV and AIDS are in your hands.

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab