Monday, May 16, 2011

Tell congress and states to STOP cuts to ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs; restore full funding now!

On this the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic we are facing a perlious time in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with budget cuts occuring within Federal Government. These cuts are trickling down to states, who must then scramble and find ways to fund these critically important services and programs for PLWHA. This crisis has created a uncomfortable climate for those of us living with HIV/AIDS. People are worried that access to life saving and life sustaining medication will be cut off. We will not remain invincible, our voices in unity must be heard in order to prevent needless deaths and illnesses.

So many, but particularly Ryan White have paved the way for those of us LIVING with HIV/AIDS and today his legacy is being threatened. It is time that we re-ignite the movement in the fight for equal rights AND equal access to care for EVERYONE living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. WE MUST tell Washington and States to protect the legacy of Ryan White, and too FULLY fund ADAP and other HIV/AIDS under the Ryan White Care Act; these programs across the country are vital to the health of those of us living with HIV/AIDS.

Quoting the words of Jeanne White Ginder “the biggest contribution I think that Ryan made is, and I didn't know it at that time, that his legacy would be that people are getting their drugs and their treatment and that people are living with AIDS.” I wonder what his mother’s remarks would be today of this crisis.

There should be no reason, no excuse to have over 8,000 people currently waiting for life saving medications; AND thousands more across the country worried that access to their life sustaining medications will be cut off.

We are being told to get tested, know your status, but then being told in many states that we can’t help you. People testing positive in MANY states are being sent away with their name on a waiting list HOPING they will be called. For those who do not find out until they are so sick that they need to be on meds, what do we do? Is it too late for them? Can you imagine being told you have to wait, all the while knowing your immune system is weakining and your viral load increasing. Wait!?!

Today medicine is able to surpress the HIV virus to a point where the virus becomes undetectable, keeping people alive and healthy. For those not on medicine, the immune system may become compromised putting them at increased risk of opportunistic infections, and because their virus is not controlled with medicine; they are then at an increase risk of spreading the virus.

On May 12th, 2011 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill led an international study that shows early treatment with antiretroviral therapy prevents HIV transmission.

The study results show that early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in people infected with HIV prevents them from transmitting the virus to their partners. The study, known as HPTN 052, was designed to evaluate whether antiretroviral drugs can prevent sexual transmission of HIV infection among couples in which one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not. The results are the first of their kind from a major randomized clinical trial.

The result of the study was that those taking ARV were 96 percent less likely to pass on the disease than those who didn’t take ARV

This critical new finding convincingly demonstrates that early treatment of infected individuals can have a major impact on the spread of the epidemic. This finding gives further credance to the importance of fully funding ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs.

Then the New York Times posted an Oped by Charles M Blow, which you can read in it's entirety, by clicking here. The article is titled "Treatment as Prevention. This further bolsters the position to fully fund ADAP.

The cost comparison to treating vs not treating or funding vs not funding ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs would put a heavier burden on states, causing widening health disparities and needless illness and deaths. This is a burden that would be felt by tax payers too.

Also, how are we to meet the President's Goal in his HIV/AIDS initiative announced in July 2010 which calls for reducing HIV transmission by 20% over the next 5 years? This will not happen if Washington does not fully fund ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs across the country.

If full funding is not restored to HIV/AIDS related services under the Ryan White Care Act; then I fear we will see a flashback to the 80’s. People dying, but this time, not because of we have no drugs to treat the disease, but because we don’t have the funding to do so. It is time that we demand more from Washington, and get more people involved in the cause again.

I hope you will join with me and countless others across the country in signing this petition. A petition to tell our state and federal government that on the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic; full funding for ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs is essential for PLWHA to sustain a healthy life and continue to survive.

I invite you to visit the Adap Advocacy Association (aaa+) and NASTAD's website. They are keeping tabs on this crisis and update their site frequently with the latest state waiting list numbers, cuts to formularies, changes to elegibility criteria, and other news when it comes to this crisis.

Will you please sign the below petition, post as your status update on facebook, to friends walls, tweet it, and use any e mail list serves you all may have. Every signature counts! I see no reason why we cannot get to 10,000 signatures! Your support is appreciated.


Kevin Maloney
Founder of RiseUpToHIV
Rising Up, Standing Out, and Speaking up about HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Facebook/Twitter @RiseUpToHIV
"Voices in unity strengthening community"

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