The 2011 ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+) conference, held July 5-7 in Washington, D.C., was bursting with spirit and, in this video blog, you'll see the entire conference boiled down to only nine minutes. I'm the cliff notes of HIV/AIDS events!
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ADAP is the program that provides HIV meds to those who cannot afford them, and after years of running smoothly it now has waiting lists in various states totaling over 9,000 people.
There were several programs and resources featured at the conference that I never knew existed, like the Patient Advocate Foundation. Did you know there is a non-profit foundation that focuses on resolving disputes between you and your insurance company or medical provider (HIV or not)? Whether they are refusing to pay for a medication, or questioning a procedure, this Foundation will fight for you. They have garnered such a reputation that many companies just fold when they see the Foundation coming.
There may be politics involved here about which I am unaware, but where were our large national organizations? Frankly, I was disappointed to see a conference devoted to arguably the most pressing HIV issue of the day, held right in the D.C. home of most national agencies, and yet major organizations like the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) were not represented. As one speaker shouted from the podium, "WHERE YOU AT?"
(To NMAC's credit, they recently launched their own web site devoted to the ADAP crisis, with much of the same information available through aaa+. The more the merrier, of course, but I sure wish large organizations would pool their efforts and support one another.)
Have you heard of the Pre-Existing Insurance Plan (PCIP)? It provides health insurance to those who have been uninsured for six months or have been denied coverage. It's a government program designed to help get people insured while we're waiting for the new health plan to kick in, which happens in 2014. If it sounds like you qualify, I urge you to contact them at 866-717-5826. The premiums are based on what a healthy person would pay in the same market.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list continues to grow on a daily basis, denying patients the very medications that can keep them alive. This national disgrace deserves our attention and our phone calls to our elected officials, urging them not to forget the most vulnerable among us, even in times of fiscal crisis. Today is a great day to pick up the phone and contact your U.S. representatives, and tell them that you want them to support (or keep supporting) funding for ADAP.