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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Letter to state senators regarding funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)

Dear Senator:

I am one of your constituents who benefits from and depends on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP program). It is not my desire to have to depend on this program, but because of a recent and unexpected change in my employment situation, I currently rely on this program to stay well, to get back into the workforce and literally to stay alive.

In March 2001 I was unexpectedly diagnosed with HIV. I had been sexually assaulted in March 2001, but did not expect to end up HIV-positive. I also did not anticipate becoming ill within months of my diagnosis. Fortunately, I had a job with good health insurance which helped me get the medications I needed to survive. Nevertheless, the ADAP program helped me with the co-pays on my medications because my job as a social service provider to at-risk children and families did not pay me enough to make all my medical expenses on my own.

I might be dead today if ADAP were not there, along with many other beautiful people who have much to offer to our society.

Like many Americans, I am reliant on ADAP for my basic medical needs because of unexpected crises. I hope that I can soon find a job that provides health insurance that will make my reliance on ADAP unnecessary. However, even with what I have experienced, I am one of the lucky ones. There are many people who are dying right now because they do not have access to ADAP.

ADAP provides life-saving HIV/AIDS medications to uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. Access to these drug therapies allows people with HIV/AIDS to remain relatively healthy, productive members of society and avoid lengthy and costly episodes of acute care.

But ADAP programs across the U.S. are facing a financial crisis. Increased utilization combined with a shortfall in state funding for ADAPS has forced over 1,300 ADAP-eligible patients to be placed on waiting lists. Fifteen states have already taken steps to limit eligibility, including ten that have capped enrollment. Eight more states have recently announced their intention to follow suit.

Senators Gordon Smith and Jeff Bingaman have drafted a letter to Chairman Specter and Senator Harkin requesting their support of the House's higher ADAP funding level of $803.87 million for FY2005. I urge you to show your commitment to people living with HIV/AIDS by signing on to the letter. To sign on, please contact Catherine Finley at 4-8325 (Smith) or Bruce Lesley at 4-0164 (Bingaman).

Thank you in advance for your support.

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