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Saving Lives With Your Recycled Meds

By Stacie Wade-Howard

April/May 2002

Article: Saving Lives With Your Recycled Meds
Philip Freeman of RAMP hopes that people will bring their unwanted HIV/AIDS meds to this collection box located at the David Geffen Center. Photo by Michael Storc.

"In sub-Saharan Africa whole generations are basically disappearing," says Mark Fienberg, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine and an AIDS researcher since 1984. People in undeveloped countries living with HIV/AIDS are suffering due to economic hardship and their inability to receive proper care and medications.

In the United States, access to medication has contributed to a prolonged life expectancy for those living with HIV/AIDS. While many people consume AIDS medications with little or no side effects, others develop intolerance and often dispose of the medications.

More than $50,000 worth of unused medications is sent each month from the Recycled AIDS Medicine Project (RAMP) to the Joint Research Project in Kenya, the Laura Rodriguez Foundation in Chile and CURAS in Mexico City. Kenya is one of the nine African countries hardest hit by the epidemic where more than 2 million people are infected. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean comprise more infections than any other county.

Founded by a Longtime Humanist

RAMP is a project of the Humanist Movement, also known as Positive Humanist & Friends. Homer Hobi, a member of the Humanist Movement since 1972, recognized the need for AIDS medications in undeveloped countries in 1994. After receiving numerous medication requests from foreign non-profit organizations, Hobi decided to make an impact by founding the Recycling AIDS Medicine Project in 1997. Hobi has partnered with Philip Freeman, a Special Education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, to expand RAMP from its base in San Francisco to Southern California.

Donating unused AIDS medication is simple. RAMP has several locked drop-off locations in Southern and Northern California where individuals, physicians and organizations can donate. "These drop-off boxes are similar to small mailboxes where deposits can be made but medications cannot be removed," says Philip Freeman. A drop-off location has been setup at APLA's David Geffen Center, 611 S. Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005, on the first floor near the security desk. Donations can be made Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to approximately 8 p.m.

Article: Saving Lives With Your Recycled Meds
Your unneeded meds can help someone in another country.

Donors are asked to remove personal names and prescription numbers from the labels on the bottles but retain the name of the medication, its strength and expiration date. After the medication is gathered and sorted, the expiration dates are reviewed and cataloged before the medication is shipped to foreign non-profit organizations. The organizations distribute the medications only to those who are under the care of a licensed physician.

Not all medications are accepted by RAMP. Medication more than six months past its expiration date is not accepted and should be discarded by the donor. Narcotics and tranquilizers are also not accepted.

RAMP depends on volunteers and donations to continue improving the quality of life for those infected with HIV/AIDS in undeveloped countries. For more information on how and where to donate AIDS medications or to volunteer, contact Philip Freeman at (310) 551-3065, E-mail Mail correspondence to Positive Humanists & Friends, P.O. Box 460580, San Francisco, CA 94146.

Stacie Wade-HowardStacie Wade-Howard is an intern in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Publications Program.

Back to the April/May 2002 issue of Positive Living.

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