HIV/AIDS Medication Wait List

by Annie Brown
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 11, 2011

As of February 3rd, approximately 6,001 people in 10 states have been placed on AIDS Drugs Assistance Program waiting lists and are quickly loosing access to life-saving HIV/AIDS medications.

This week, The AIDS Drug Assistance Program Advocacy Association (aaa+) released a series of Public Service Announcements to bring awareness to the current ADAP crisis.

These public service announcements - one 60 second clip for television and another 5 minute clip for the internet - are the first PSAs in history to focus solely on the ADAP.

"We're proud to offer a glimpse into the important role that the AIDS Drug Assistance Program plays in the lives of so many Americans living with HIV/AIDS," said Brandon M. Macsata, CEO of the ADAP Advocacy Association.

"The two PSAs are designed to tell an important story, and it is one that all Americans need to hear because ADAPs are central to keeping Americans living with HIV/AIDS healthy and productive members of their communities."

Watch the PSA here:

The aaa+ is not only raising awareness about the issue, but also taking action to solve the problem. On the weekend of January 29th - 30th, aaa+ held an emergency summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

HIV/AIDS activists, pharmaceutical representatives, members of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, as well as other concerned parties attended the conference.

The topics of discussion were specific: the current funding crisis that the ADAP faces due to a nationwide under-funding of the program and the creation of waiting lists.

At the conference, Macsata told blogger Mike S. King, "We are telling our people in this country, 'Know your status, go get tested.' From a medical perspective we are telling people 'Get treated, it will make you feel better.' And then we are telling them, 'Get in line, we can't pay for it.'"

Currently the ADAP helps 150,000 people receive access to life-saving AIDS medications. Since the program started to feel the strain of budget cuts in 2010, over 6,000 people have been placed on waiting lists, with over 3,000 of those people residing in Florida.

The ADAP is joint-funded by the federal government and the state government and assisted by rebates from pharmaceutical companies.

There was tension at the conference pertaining to where to place blame.

Some saw the solution in political advocacy, encouraging constituents to call their representatives and explain that their state's ADAP waiting list must be eliminated in order to save lives and avoid future cost to the state once individuals without access to AIDS medications require more expensive treatment.

Others saw the profiteering habits of pharmaceutical companies as the primary source of the hardships faced by HIV/AIDS positive Americans. Although pharmaceutical representatives presented their concern for the issue to the audience, many attendees still accused them of prioritizing "profits over people."

Macsata comments, "Without the pharmaceutical companies, and their research and innovation, we wouldn't have these drugs to begin with. So, I don't think its appropriate to blame pharmaceutical companies. Are they charging too much? I think we can all agree yes. However, the pharmaceutical companies are stepping up to the plate and expanding what are called Patient Assistant Programs."

At the 2011 emergency summit, a letter, addressed to President Barack Obama and National AIDS Policy Director, Jim Crowley, was drafted and signed by attendees, including 57 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The letter, which calls for an immediate fix to the problem of the ADAP crisis, was sent February 4th, and yet waiting lists continue to grow nationwide.

"We've heard the rhetoric, now we want results. The President still enjoys widespread support in the HIV/AIDS community, and we're hopeful that something is done before the ADAP waiting lists top six thousand Americans living with HIV/AIDS," Macsata states in an aaa+ press release concerning the letter to the President.

For more information on the issue, visit:

Annie grew up in Washington, DC and at present, does most of her journalism and activism work in Virginia. She has worked for independent publications in both the United States and India. Annie is currently a writer and sexual health educator in Richmond, Virginia.


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