July 7, 2011
When will Washington come to the rescue? Not fast enough. Credit: adapadvocacyassociation.org.
The fourth annual ADAP Advocacy Association conference is being held in D.C. this week, and the theme for the conference is "When will Washington come to the rescue?" Activists, service providers, and members of the AIDS community have come together to brainstorm ideas and develop action plans to attack the problem with the growing AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list. They are demanding that Congress step up and work harder to save ADAP programs in various states. Brandon Macsata, CEO of ADAP Advocacy Association and managing partner of Macsata-Kornegay Group Inc., asked, "What do we have to do to make enough noise to get Congress to do something?"
ADAP is a government-sponsored program designed to assist people who need HIV/AIDS medications if they are uninsured or underinsured. The program has been drained tremendously over the past few years due to an increase in testing and identification of new infections. (Note: This does not mean that getting more people tested is a bad thing by any means. It just means that the drugs must be available once people are identified so that they can begin their treatment immediately.) The current ADAP waiting list has more than 8,500 names total as of June 30. Florida leads the list with 3,562 people and Georgia is second with 1,630. Washington, D.C. has no waiting list for ADAP but our southern neighbor Virginia does with 815 people on it. (Makes you wonder if some desperate Virginia residents will migrate to D.C. for life-saving drugs. It's not as far fetched as you think).
The conference schedule has been packed with sessions on ADAP eligibility, legislative updates, ADAP and rural communities, grassroots and social media advocacy. There has also been training sessions on how to educate Congress and ADAP sustainability. Plenary session speaker and board member of the ADAP Advocacy Association Archbishop Joyce Keller Turner charged the audience to make Congressional leaders pay attention to the problem with ADAP. "They won't come until we force them to come."
The conference wraps up today with a Congressional briefing and office visits to talk face to face with leaders about the severity of the ADAP crisis.