This year has been busy in the fight against HIV. Several new HIV drugs were approved (Fuzeon, Reyataz, Lexiva, and Emtriva). While some of these offer people with HIV new ways to combat the virus, others offer modest advantages like improved convenience or fewer/different side effects. Surprisingly, the biggest overall challenge to people living with HIV this year has not necessarily been the virus, but the cuts in dollars for research and medication assistance programs. This year, federal funding for state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) has severely fallen short. The battles to save ADAP have been many, with very few wins. People with HIV/AIDS in the US who are in dire need of life-saving medications are being put on waiting lists because there is not enough money. Somehow, our legislators can't see that investing around $15,000 for a year's worth of HIV medications actually saves money by keeping a person out of the hospital because of preventable illnesses. If you haven't contacted your US senators and representatives to make sure they are supporting ADAP funding increases (part of the Ryan White Care Act), now might be a good time to do so. See the Useful Resources list in this issue for information on how to contact your elected officials. Also, you can contact the Save ADAP Committee of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC) if you'd like more information and to find out how to get more involved (www.atac-usa.org/adap.html).
No matter how many times we hear it, HIV is not a "chronic manageable disease" -- it will always be controversial and always require a fight to keep people alive until there's a cure.
For a current list of upcoming CFA events, visit The Center for AIDS calendar.