Gov. Rick Scott extended (.pdf) “greetings and best wishes to all those observing” World AIDS Day today, while organizations in Florida and the U.S. are calling for action against the problems people living with HIV/AIDS are facing.
Scott acknowledges in his statement that Florida has the third-highest rate of HIV infection in the U.S., “with 135,000 Floridians living with the disease.”
The Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus points out in a written statement that Florida:
- [has] the greatest number of people living with HIV/AIDS incarcerated in a state prison;
- [has] the greatest number of people on a wait list to access HIV-medications through the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)
- [has] a greater number of people living with HIV/AIDS who are victim to HIV-criminalization and being arrested because Florida has laws that are outdated and not based on modern day science;
- falls short in its in HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention programs;
- bans evidence-based programs like syringe-exchange programs, despite the fact they are proven to decrease the number of new HIV and Hepatitis C-infections;
- ignores the realities of LGBT-youth who are most at risk of infection by failing to establish a minimum state standard for sex education, inclusive of LGBT-people;
- fails to have a strategy to effectively reduce the number of HIV-infections, reduce health disparities or improve access to care and health outcomes for People Living with HIV.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said this week “we have the tools to stop HIV from spreading in the individual patient and we have the tools to greatly reduce its spread in communities.”
Frieden added that a recent study shows “that treatment for HIV can prevent the spread of HIV to others. For too many years there has been sometimes friction between HIV treatment and HIV prevention, and this study brings home that treatment is prevention, that treatment is essential to prevention.”
A public service announcement launched today by the National Minority AIDS Council and Gilead Science Inc. states: “HIV is not the same epidemic it was 30 years ago, but it is far from over,” telling viewers to “take the 20 minutes to get tested”:
The ADAP Crisis Task Force (.pdf) and Gilead Sciences announced today that they reached new terms “that extend additional voluntary discounts and rebates for most Gilead products purchased by state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs).” This at a time when Florida is home to almost 50 percent (more than 3,200 people (.pdf)) of all the individuals on AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting lists in the U.S.
ADAP provides medications for the treatment of HIV and AIDS for people who cannot afford to pay because they are unemployed, uninsured, or underinsured. States have implemented a variety of cost containment measures that include waiting lists since 2010 when ADAPs began facing an ongoing funding crisis.