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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Florida Leads the Nation in Denying Medications to HIV-Positive People

By Elizabeth Lombino -

Our culture is inundated with one crisis after another. Energy crisis, healthcare crisis, financial crisis, unemployment crisis ... These are all very real and they are scary. Yet, there is another serious crisis that is somehow hidden from our collective consciousness. The ADAP crisis.
ADAP, or AIDS Drug Assistance Program, is a vital program that assists HIV-positive individuals with paying for the incredibly expensive medications needed to treat and manage this devastating disease. Without these essential medications, a person’s HIV disease is more likely to progress to AIDS. HIV/AIDS can become life-threatening.
Currently, ADAP funding is being slashed in many states across the country. More and more people are becoming infected with HIV and as a result, states are struggling to keep up with the demand for ADAP assistance. Thousands of HIV-positive people have been terminated from the program and thousands more are being placed on waiting lists. Currently, there are more than 5,100 people in ten states on ADAP waiting lists.
Florida is at the heart of this crisis, as 2,715 people are now on the state's waiting list. This is over half of the national total. And these numbers continue to grow each month as states continue to struggle with financial constraints and increasing HIV infection rates.  This is a major crisis that could only get worse if something doesn't change.
Please join us today in demanding Florida State Legislators to provide better care to its residents who are living with HIV by reinstating ADAP funding.
On the plus side, Florida state officials recently decided to cancel a public hearing to discuss the possibility of lowering the ADAP income eligibility level. This move would completely terminate hundreds of HIV-positive people from ADAP due to their "too high" income level. No waiting list, just total loss. The proposed changes are on hold, so without continued protest and awareness, the change could eventually become a reality.
At this point, you may be wondering why such an article is posted on the Gay Right's Cause. We're among the first to proclaim "HIV/AIDS is NOT a Gay Disease!" Yes, this is true, yet it is also true that HIV still disproportionately affects young men who have sex with men. Also, while many LGBT organizations were at the front lines of AIDS advocacy in the early years, some have shied away from the battle. We all need to be loud and raise awareness to reduce stigma. We need to get news involving HIV/AIDS back in the mainstream media. As Kellee Terrell writes:
While the media continues to improve its reporting on LGBT issues -- especially around bullying, homophobia, DADT, ... marriage equality and job discrimination -- more needs to be done to illustrate how these issues directly impact one's own HIV risk. It may come as a surprise to some that there are still many cases (and many states) in which it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the U.S. And if people can be fired from their job, that means they can lose their financial stability. They become less able to look after their health care, and in some cases may even become homeless. A slew of reasons begin to emerge that can make those individuals more vulnerable to HIV. (Hint, hint: National LGBT organizations, perhaps now is the time to make HIV/AIDS a platform issue. If you do, the media might follow.)
The ADAP crisis is very real and very scary. Florida is not alone. Other states are struggling with ADAP funding cuts and the consequences fall to the HIV-positive individuals themselves. This story deserves the same attention as many other events we hear about on a daily basis. Stay tuned to this cause for future posts and petitions highlighting the need for change with ADAP across the country. Together, we can overcome this crisis to ensure all individuals living with HIV/AIDS get the vital medications they need.

petition text -
Please Reinstate ADAP Funding for Your Residents Living with HIV/AIDS

Greetings, Florida State Officials,

Florida is at the heart of our nation's ADAP crisis. We urge you to reinstate full funding to this vital program for all of your residents living with HIV/AIDS.

We applaud you for cancelling the upcoming public hearing to discuss the possibility of lowering the ADAP income eligibility level. We all know this would be a devastating move for the residents of your state living with HIV/AIDS, and for your state's healthcare providers.

ADAP is vital in the HIV/AIDS fight. Far too many people cannot afford these life-saving, yet incredibly expensive medications. Without proper medication, HIV disease can more quickly progress to AIDS. HIV/AIDS then becomes life-threatening. ADAP assists those with financial constraints to gain access to these vital medications. To further cut funding puts thousands of lives in danger.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We urge you to join us in fighting the ADAP crisis by reinstating funding.

[Your name here] 


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