White House Announces An Additional 25 Million Dollars In AIDS Relief, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Denounces It "As Too Little, Too Late"

In a Press Release Statement from the HHS Press Office that Back2Stonewall has recieved, comes the announcement that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will be reallocating $25 million for AIDS Drug Assistance to help provide resources to States that have AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting lists or have implemented strategies to contain costs and delay or prevent a waiting list.

From the HSS Press Release:

This week, we improved access to critical HIV/AIDS prescription drugs and are continuing to work towards preventing, and ultimately eliminating, the need for ADAP waiting lists. Governors will soon receive a letter detailing how to access these funds. The Administration has been steadily increasing funding and while this is a significant infusion of funds, on top of more than $800 million already specifically allocated to the ADAP Program this year, the Federal government cannot do this alone–States and Pharmaceutical companies also need to do their part.

Improving access to care and treatment for people living with HIV is a top priority for HHS. These funds are just one part of a broader effort we are making to improve the health status of people living with HIV. Created under the Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will provide a new health coverage option for Americans who have been uninsured for at least six months and have been unable to get health coverage because of a health condition—including HIV. This option will be available until 2014, when insurers will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions.

In response the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization hosted press teleconference to denounce an Obama administration plan to address AIDS drug crisis with an insufficient $25 million as “too little, too late.”

Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation responds:

Currently, 2090 people are on waiting lists to receive AIDS medications. In May, a person on an ADAP waiting list in South Carolina died while on the waiting list. If the Obama administration plan serves as the only so-called ‘fix’ for this dangerous situation, we can be assured that the list of those waiting for lifesaving AIDS drugs will only increase and more deaths will follow. Considering the fact that individuals who are successful on treatment are far less able to transmit the virus than those who are not, the Obama plan could also have negative consequences on current HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, demonstrating a serious disregard for public health.

The letter from HHS states that an allocation of $25 million will be sufficient to respond to the current and projected need through the end of Fiscal Year 2010. However, this amount neglects to take into account future uncertainty regarding budget cuts and the rate at which waiting lists are growing. For example, the Florida ADAP expects to add between 250 and 300 new patients per month to the current waiting list.

In an effort to address the crisis, Senators Burr, Coburn and Enzi introduced S. 3401, the ACCESS ADAP Act, a bill which provides $126 million in unobligated stimulus funds to eliminate waiting lists through Fiscal Year 2010. The bill failed to gain the support of the administration or Congress. The $126 million was a number provided by state AIDS director as the amount of additional federal funding required to meet current program needs given the number of people on waiting lists, expected number of new patients and budget cuts per state.

Given that the cost to provide AIDS medications is roughly $10,000 per patient, per year—the $25 million in additional funding proposed by the Obama administration would barely be enough to cover the 2,090 currently on waiting lists—without taking into account new patients enrolling and further state budget cuts”

In the meantime this year Congress has appropriated an additional $136.8 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the 2010 fiscal year. National Priorities Project estimates that for this fiscal year, $64.5 billion is directed to Iraq and $72.3 billion to Afghanistan.  But only 125 million dollars more in AIDS funding here at home could save the lives, ease the suffering, and help to to solve this urgent AIDS crisis in America and thats hard for them to do?

To Obama and the Federal Goverment:   CAN YOU PLEASE GET YOUR FUCKING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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