September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010
Rhode Island to Start ADAP Waiting List

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. And what a long and exhausting week is has been!

Yesterday, we had a three hour conference call and webinar for the National AIDS Strategy. While the presentation was great and yes it is just wonderful we finally have a national HIV/AIDS strategy; there was still not enough focus put on current problems like funding and the ADAP waiting lists. We now have fourteen states and over 3,000 American men and women on waiting lists for life saving anti-HIV medications.

What is that? You thought it was only thirteen states with waiting lists? Then you have not heard the latest news my friend. Yes, another state has started an ADAP waiting list.

I am absolutely astounded that due to budgetary problems, the RI Dept of Health is taking lifesaving anti-HIV medications out of thousands of peoples hands who can not afford them starting today. No advanced warning. Nothing. I do not think they realize that they are taking us right back into the crisis of the 1980's. How many more millions will it cost when people start dying in record numbers because they can not afford their medications. Here is a recap of what they are doing:

Effective tomorrow, Sept 1, 2010, RI Health Dept is implementing a significant change in access to HIV medications, due to budget problems.

In the past, people living with HIV who had no health insurance could receive all their HIV medications (and a few others on the state formulary)without cost if their income fell below 400% of the federal poverty line (<$42,000 for 1 person). That limit is now shrinking to 200% ($21,000). Interestingly, one year of the popular 3 drugs in one pill, Atripla, costs more than $21,000! Also, people who had insurance but had significant co-pays and who fell within those income guidelines could have their co-pays covered by the state HIV drug program. Co-pays may range from a few dollars to >20% of meds that retail at $500 to $1000 each, with most drug regimens requiring 3 to 4 drugs. Working people do not stand a chance.

These changes have implications for people living with HIV who may not qualify for patient assistance programs, are uninsured or have large co-pays. It also has an impact on the potential transmission of HIV in the community if people are not able to keep their viral loads undetectable.

We have made HIV a chronic disease which allows people to live their lives fully and now, it is like taking insulin away from insulin dependent diabetics and telling them to go on a diet!

Now you know the rest of the story! So please continue to contact the White House and your elected officials and demand more funding for ADAP and other Ryan White programs. The lives of your fellow American men and women with HIV and AIDS are counting on you.

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab