Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gaps in Services

It was a beautiful day today in the Wabash Valley. The skies were clear and sunny. Our high was 83 degrees and I could see for miles and miles.

Not a lot happened today, I participated in a conference call for a needs assessment survey for people living with HIV/AIDS in Indiana. Our state government is trying to determine if there are any gaps in services in Indiana.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) provides HIV/AIDS related prescription drugs to uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

ADAP funds are used to provide medications to treat HIV disease, or to prevent the serious deterioration of health, including measures for the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections. As a payer of last resort, ADAP only serves individuals who have neither public nor private insurance or cannot get all of their medication needs met through their insurance payer.

In Indiana, ADAP funds are used to both purchase drugs and to purchase cost-effective insurance. The problem is... funds are limited. As of this morning there were 37 people on the ADAP waiting list in Indiana. As of this afternoon there are 36.

'Michael' and I have know each other for about a year. Michael was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 and entered care in 2008 which was when I met him. Michael was 22 when we met. When his parents noticed he had homosexual tendencies they invited their pastor over to discuss the issue with him. Michael disclosed to his minister that he was gay and the following Sunday the minister announce that there was a sinner in the congregation and he publicly announced that Michael was gay and damned to hell. That day, Michael's parents asked him to move out. Shortly after moving out of his parents home Michael began using methamphetamines to help deal with his depression and sadness. At some point thereafter, Michael was exposed to HIV.

In January of this year Michael's doctor recommended that he start Anti-Retroviral Therapy to treat HIV. Michael was uninsurable and his Medicaid co-pay was $952 per month. An amazing amount considering his income was less than $300 per month and he lived in a local shelter.

Due to budget restrictions there wasn't enough money in the Indiana state budget for Michael to have HIV medication and this morning at 9:18 am he passed away.

But, Indiana has a balanced budget... and we have cut services for people living HIV/AIDS in Indiana again this year.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reality Check

Yesterday morning as I sat in congregation at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, my friend Dennis James Perry passed away from illnesses associated with advanced HIV disease. Dennis James was a friend with whom I often argued, not because we had issues, but because we both enjoyed a good argument. Dennis James and I had only known each other for about 5 years but we developed a mutual respect for each other quickly. He occasionally provided HIV prevention education classes in Terre Haute. A retired educator, DJ loved working with teenagers, he told me he felt at home with them.

In this world of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) and Long Term Non Progressors (LTNPs) we often forget about the death. In fact, some 5,500 people die from AIDS related illnesses everyday so it is paramount that we do whatever we can to provide prevention education and testing whenever and wherever we can.

Here are some startling facts from USAID:

In 2007, 33 million people around the world were living with HIV/AIDS. More than 64.9 million people have been infected with HIV since the pandemic began. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading cause of death globally.

HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women, with 15.5 million HIV-positive worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent 61 percent of the region’s cases.

An estimated 32 million people have died from AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic.

In 2007, 370,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2 million. About half of all new adult HIV infections occur among 15-24 year olds.

Approximately 95 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest-hit region, but other regions face severe or rapidly growing epidemics in specific countries or areas. Parts of Asia and Latin America are experiencing severe epidemics at the national or local level. Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the region with the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world.

DJ, you will be missed my friend.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A New Joint Venture

I had a great week in Indianapolis facilitating American Red Cross HIV Prevention Training. During the course of the week I learned that the group providing HIV testing at the Indianapolis Walgreen's Pharmacy stores had stopped providing those services due to manpower issues.

I'm happy to announce that beginning on Friday, May 15th the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry will offer free anonymous HIV testing at the Walgreen's at 16th and Meridian in Indianapolis onboard the mobile HIV testing unit. We will soon announce a schedule listing the days and locations the mobile testing unit will serve sometime in the next few weeks.