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CDC to release new AIDS deaths data at first national State of AIDS Forum

Forum to focus on challenges of changing epidemic in context of new AIDS drugs, declining death rates

July 7, 1997

Contact: José Zuñiga
(202) 986-1300, Ext. 3042

WASHINGTON, DC - The nation's leading AIDS policy organization will convene the first national forum on the state of the AIDS epidemic in the context of promising new AIDS drug therapies and declining death rates. The AIDS Action State of AIDS Forum, which begins at 9 a.m., July 14, in the National Press Club's Main Ballroom, will open with the release of new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on AIDS mortality. AIDS experts will announce the results of studies showing that the advent of potentially life-saving drugs poses new challenges for people with AIDS and those who serve them. People with AIDS and AIDS service providers from around the country will discuss the personal and professional challenges they face in the new era of AIDS.

CDC Announces New AIDS Death Rate Statistics, Examines Trend in AIDS Mortality. "AIDS Deaths Drop 13 Percent in U.S." Last year's dramatic announcement by the CDC offered hope that new AIDS drugs were keeping more Americans with HIV/AIDS alive. Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD & TB Prevention, announces anxiously-awaited new statistics on AIDS mortality rates that may show whether there is a continued downward trend in the number of AIDS-related deaths.

An L.A. Story: Study Finds That People of Color Lack Access to New Drugs. AIDS-fighting drugs can only save lives if patients have access to them. James Loyce, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), releases the results of a client survey indicating that, while 75 percent of Caucasian clients have access to protease inhibitors, only 57 percent of African-Americans and 54 percent of Latinos are able to obtain the life-prolonging drugs. Another shocking figure shows that 13 percent of clients indicated they had been prescribed protease inhibitors but could not access them.


It Takes Two to Tango: Why Do Some Doctors Refuse to Prescribe Life-saving Drugs to Some Patients? Why Do Some Patients Fail to Adhere to Medication? Misconceptions and lack of AIDS-specific training among medical professionals may prevent doctors from prescribing combination drug therapies to patients whose lives could be saved. Meanwhile, some patients fail to adhere to promising AIDS drug therapies because they lack continued access or there are miscommunications in the doctor-client relationship. Dr. Linda Frank, director of the Pennsylvania AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC), addresses the complex issue of "compliance" as a new challenge for the doctor-patient team.

Shift to Outpatient Care Could Squeeze Patients Out If Hospitals Close AIDS Clinics Hospital-based AIDS programs are increasingly squeezed for funding as patients on protease inhibitors spend less time in the hospital and receive more of their care through outpatient visits, which are not covered by Medicaid to the same extent as inpatient services. A New York study released by Dr. Victoria Sharp, director of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital's AIDS Center, finds hospitals in the state losing up to $70,000 a day -- a trend that could result in the closing of outpatient AIDS clinics and a loss of medical services for people with AIDS.

The Best and Worst of Times: Protease Inhibitors Don't Work For All People Protease inhibitors have been widely praised for their success in prolonging the lives of people with AIDS. However, the drug therapies do not work for everyone. Gregg Gonsalves, policy director of the Treatment Action Group (TAG), presents on people with AIDS who either show no improvement after undergoing much-touted combination therapies with protease inhibitors, or who cannot tolerate the therapies' toxic effects.

Fewer AIDS Deaths Mean More Challenges to Local Communities While the success of protease inhibitors brings new hope to people with HIV/AIDS, declining AIDS death rates are increasing the demand for services from local AIDS service organizations. Douglas Nelson, executive director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, discusses new challenges that AIDS service providers face as their caseloads rise and public interest and funding begin to decline.

Agenda for a Changing Epidemic: Public Policy in a New Era of AIDS The top priority of AIDS public policy is to save lives. AIDS Action Deputy Executive Director Christine Lubinski outlines an agenda for helping people with HIV/AIDS gain access to life-saving drugs -- and other services they need to stay alive and healthy -- while also preventing the further transmission of HIV.

A roundtable discussion following the formal presentations will include the aforementioned presenters, chief executive officers of AIDS service organizations, National AIDS Policy Director Sandra Thurman, and people with HIV/AIDS from across the country. The people with HIV/AIDS who will share their personal experiences are: Michelle Lopez, a mother of two whose daughter Raven is on protease inhibitors; Tracy Neil, who accesses Medicaid-funded AIDS care at Continuum in San Francisco; Denise Stokes, an Atlanta woman who is a member of President Clinton's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Derrill Edwards from Wilmette, Illinois; and Winnie Fairchild, a grandmother who accesses care at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C.

Bentley Health Care, Inc., which is generously underwriting the forum, is a Beverly Hills-based global health care company that will provide outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients with catastrophic illnesses requiring sophisticated long-term care in AIDS, cancer, kidney failure and organ transplantation.

"We are pleased to support this important AIDS Action national forum because it reflects our complete commitment to more effective treatments and increased research efforts for all those affected by HIV disease," said Dr. Bernard Salick, Bentley Health Care's Chairman and CEO.

1997 AIDS Action State of AIDS Forum

DATE: Monday, July 14, 1997
TIME: 9 - 11 a.m.
PLACE: National Press Club, Main Ballroom
(14th & F Streets)

Media interested in covering AIDS Action's State of AIDS Forum must submit a media credential by Friday, July 11. To obtain a credential form, please call Kurt Schade at (202) 986-1300, Ext. 3060. Media queries should be directed to José Zuñiga at (202) 986-1300, Ext. 3042.

Contact: José Zuñiga
Director of Communications
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3042
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.