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AIDS Action Weekly Update

October 25, 1996

Welcome to AIDS Action Council's Weekly Washington Update, an on-line newsletter that reviews what is happening in Washington on AIDS policy issues each week. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at the e-mail address listed below.

Phone And Fax Zap To The Pharmaceutical Industry On Halloween

AIDS advocates across the nation are planning to contact the CEOs of Abbott Labs, Glaxo Wellcome, Hoffman-LaRoche, and Merck via phone and FAX on Halloween next week, demanding these companies lower the prices for life enhancing drugs for HIV and AIDS. Within the last year, many treatments such as combination therapy and protease inhibitors have become available that have the potential of improving the standard of care for many people living with HIV. However, many of these new therapies and the care to properly administer these therapies are unavailable to an ever growing percentage of people with HIV. AIDS advocates, in collaboration with members of Congress, federal, state and local officials and the pharmaceutical industry have improved access to care though increasing appropriations for the Ryan White CARE Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and preventing the block granting of Medicaid (the provider of health care for the majority of people with AIDS). While the pharmaceutical industry has been willing to help with many problems regarding access to drug therapies, they have refused to take steps to lower the price of their drugs. AIDS advocates are encouraging many people to call these companies on Halloween and voice their opposition and to sign onto the letter that is going to be sent to these companies on World AIDS Day in December. In conjunction with the Halloween phone and FAX zap, a national sign-on letter will be distributed on World AIDS Day December 1, 1996 to these drug companies demanding they lower the prices on drug treatments for those with HIV and AIDS. An alert with all the information will be sent out to individuals and organizations on AIDS Action's faxboard early next week. A copy of the alert will be posted on the Handsnet network and here at TheBody.

Division Of HIV Services At HRSA Issues Recommendations To State Aids Drug Assistance Programs

In a letter dated October 17, 1996, the Division of HIV Services (DHS) outlined critical recommendations and expectations regarding State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP). ADAP, a program authorized under Title II of the Ryan White CARE Act, provides access to life enhancing medications to those people with HIV or AIDS who are uninsured or not eligible for Medicaid. These recommendations were generated in response to issues raised during the DHS's review of State applications for funding under the FY 96 ADAP supplemental appropriations and focused primarily on program administration, client eligibility, formularies, and cost-saving strategies. Of particular importance was DHS's explanation that funds appropriated by Congress specifically for ADAP were to be used by states to expand current ADAP programs but not to supplant any funds that the state has already committed to the program. DHS's letter also outlines other important steps that it feels will assure that a large number of individuals who are HIV-positive or living with AIDS will have access to medications in an effort to prolong and/ or increase the quality of their lives. For further information, please contact the Division of HIV Services at HRSA at (301) 443-6745.

Harvard Study Concludes That Many Uninsured Struggle To Get Adequate Health Care

In this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that nearly half the nation's adults who lack health insurance have trouble obtaining or paying for medical care at some time in the last year. Researchers conducted about 4,000 telephone surveys and interviews with randomly selected persons. Those who are uninsured had incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes were modest, while two-thirds of those surveyed said they could not pay for insurance themselves or could not get insurance at their place of employment. The authors stated that fifty-three percent of uninsured adults reported problems getting or paying for health care in the previous year. Seventeen million respondents said these problems had serious consequences for their physical or mental health, family relationships, employment or household finances. Karen Donelan, a Harvard researcher and the study's principal author said: "The sickest people surveyed are most likely to have problems getting the medical care they need. The vast majority of uninsured adults in poor health had difficulty getting care. This contradicts the conventional wisdom that truly sick people can always get care when they need it." This statement includes many of those who are HIV-positive or living with AIDS.

HIV/AIDS In Rural Communities On The Rise

According to the Rural Center for the Study and Promotion of HIV/STD Prevention from Indiana University and Purdue University, AIDS is spreading through rural communities twice as fast as in big cities. According to William Yarber, a researcher from Indiana University, in the last four years, reported AIDS cases in rural areas of the United States rose from 4.9 to 8.8 cases per 100,000 people. This statistic represents an 80% increase as compared to the 64% increase in small metropolitan areas (50,000 to 499,999 people) and a 47% increase for larger metropolitan areas. Yarber states that rural residents often become infected during trips to urban areas and later infect their neighbors. He also cites a mentality common in small towns that holds that if people know each other they won't be infected. This mentality keeps people from learning more about HIV treatment and prevention. Effective HIV prevention programs in rural communities require innovative educational methods and materials designed to reach target audiences and include establishing community partnerships involving organizations such as schools, churches, and youth groups. These partnerships appear to an effective way to promote HIV preventive behavior in rural areas.

For more information contact:
Lisa White
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.