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The New Black Market: Selling HIV Meds for Cash

January 19, 2012

There's a new drug trade in town: selling HIV medications.

In Washington Heights, a Manhattan neighborhood, officials are seeing a growing number of HIV-positive individuals selling their meds. This growing trend of trading health for much-needed cash isn't new, but it illuminates how a crippling economy and disproportionate poverty impact people living with HIV.

Trading life-saving meds for cash highlights the relationship between employment and eligibility requirements for programs such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) or HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), as some HIV-positive individuals have to choose between holding a job and keeping benefits from these types of assistance programs. It also raises the question of how advocates can help people living with HIV better understand their options when receiving health care, so that they won't feel pressured to partake in illegal activity.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Badscorp (Chicago) Mon., Feb. 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm EST
ADAP is an outdated, underfunded, weak model of its former self. It was amazing when it was funded properly, but now its garbage. Who is coming up with the replacement program for ADAP and funding it to cover all prescribed medications for ALL HIV Positive patients in the US and Puerto Rico. ADAP here in IL could stand a complete overhaul.
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Comment by: Don't Want to Say (New York, NY) Wed., Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm EST
I can relate to this article because in 2011 I was forced to sell my HIV meds. Although I was working part time and on HASA, I had to pay a portion of my rent, which was almost all of my check. I had no money in my pocket and had a large amount of pills due to me being in a study which provided me with a large amount of meds at one time. I didn't want to but, as the article states, I had to do what I had to do! Criminalizing this will not stop it from happening, people have to live and if forced will do what is necessary to survive! Its common sense, provide HIV positive people with services so they will not have to resort to selling their meds!
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Comment by: Dan Wed., Jan. 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm EST
More pertinent, should the patents on life saving medicines be extended for "new uses", which are essentially recreational?
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Comment by: michael (los angeles) Mon., Jan. 23, 2012 at 3:05 am EST
and thus bringing up yet again another important ethical dilemma.....should medicine that saves lives be patented. without the patent of truvada and other HIV medications, cost of these drugs will go down by probably as much as 99%, possibly bringing down the cost of atripla from $1500 to $15. So what is that woman in the story to do? Sacrifice her health to save her children. Quite sickening that the pharmaceutical business is just that much in control of people's lives.
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Comment by: KENYATTA (MIAMI, FLORIDA) Fri., Jan. 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm EST
NOW THIS IS JUST CRAZY.... IF THEY KNOW HOW THEY CAN LIVE LONGER THEY WOULD RETHINK WHAT THEY ARE DOING. THAT IS CRAZY
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