February 24, 2011

February 24, 2011
ADAP Waiting Lists Reach New All Time High

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy day for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

I have some bad news unfortunately. The ADAP Waiting Lists in our country have reached another all time high.

There are 6,452 people on ADAP waiting lists in eleven states as of February 17, 2011. So far the current crisis is responsible for quadruple the number of individuals (compared to the last ADAP crisis) going without necessary life saving antiretroviral medications from their usual providers. Despite the continually growing ADAP waiting list, Congress and the Presidential Administration have taken no action since mid July of last year to relieve this ever worsening burden on American citizens. Both houses of Congress and both parties have provided possible solutions for the funding shortfall facing ADAP, but partisan politics and a Presidential administration unwilling to pay adequate attention to a once easily solved problem has allowed thousands of people relying on this program to agonize and suffer about their future of their lives.

A few days ago the AIDS community narrowly escaped having to add an additional 6,500 Florida ADAP clients to the national waiting lists. That would have put us almost 13,000 HIV + folks on ADAP waiting lists. Only frantic last minute efforts by industry, Florida state employees and AIDS advocates made this one time rescue possible through access to the Welvista ADAP Wait List Solution program. We are unlikely to be able pull off another miracle like this again. It is way past time for states and the Congress to step up, and step up QUICKLY, to solve the ADAP crisis.

"Unless we address projected shortfalls in the budget for ADAP, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York could get worse," said Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). "I am working with other members of the New York congressional delegation to ensure that State Programs receive sufficient support from the Federal Government. Without that support, I fear that things could get worse and in the long run that will cost us a great deal more in lost lives, and an increase in the number of those who will rely on costly medical treatments."

The racial and ethnic minority population has also been hard hit by ADAP's underfunding. Congresswoman Donna Christensen, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and has consistently fought for additional funding for ADAP. "The warnings of the current ADAP crisis that many members of Congress and the advocacy community have given over the years are coming to pass," remarked Congresswoman Christensen. "I am concerned about the majority of HIV+ individuals on ADAP who are located in the southern states. Over 90% of those individuals are from the minority community, in states with already stretched budgets. I find it wholly unacceptable that the Federal government is unwilling to support the American demographic most in need. When the current Continuing Resolution expires, it is absolutely necessary to increase the funding levels for ADAP. It is infeasible for the issues in ADAP to be solved with limited financing."

It is becoming more and more important that all people living with HIV contact their elected officials about the need for additional funding. This is also the time for those of us living with HIV to enlist the help of our friends, families and allies to also call their elected officials. We can not allow Americans with HIV and AIDS to die only because they can not afford life saving HIV medications.

If you do not know your elected officials and how to contact them, go to: http://www.votesmart.org and enter your address. The site will give you the names of all your elected officials. The time for action is NOW!

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab