People with HIV from around the United States will gather this month for AIDSWatch 2016, an annual event bringing advocates to the nation's Capitol to share information with lawmakers about the importance of sound HIV policies. When they head out to meet the Congress, they'll bring along concrete facts and figures about the real effects of HIV programs funded with federal dollars.
They can obtain powerful evidence of the effects of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) from the National ADAP Monitoring Project -- a long-standing project of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) -- along with a cautionary tale about the confines of what can be done in states that have refused federal support for expanding Medicaid access.
An infographic, culled with statistics from NASTAD's annual monitoring report, outlines important ways that ADAP has improved health outcomes. Getting more people with HIV engaged and retained in care has led to high rates of viral load suppression, and the additional resources of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) have helped ADAPs deliver better services to those enrolled -- while also helping some transition fully to ACA-based services instead of relying on the more limited resources of ADAP.
However, the decision of 20 states to not expand Medicaid eligibility -- a key component of the ACA -- has meant that over 33,000 people in those states must still depend on ADAP for their coverage.
"This 'Medicaid Gap' has likely exacerbated health disparities among states and placed a significant burden on ADAPs in non-Medicaid expansion states to continue to provide a safety net for low-income clients left out of health care reform," explains NASTAD in its press release on the 2016 report.
To learn more about AIDSWatch 2016, or to register as a participant for the February 29 - March 1 events, get more information from AIDS United and the other event co-sponsors.
JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.