Coalition Commends Speaker Pelosi For Leadership on HIV/AIDS


San Francisco HIV/AIDS Community Expresses Concern Over ADAP Crisis and the Scare Tactics of AIDS Healthcare Foundation

SAN FRANCISCO, August 4, 2010  Today, a coalition of leaders from the San Francisco HIV/AIDS advocacy and activist community expressed grave concern about the national crisis in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), while voicing unanimous support for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her unwavering leadership on behalf of all Americans living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and her efforts to secure increased ADAP funds. The coalition also denounced AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s “mock funeral” protest of Speaker Pelosi. The coalition released the following joint statement:

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, a component of the Ryan White Program, provides access to lifesaving treatment for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS who are uninsured or underinsured. It serves over 150,000 people living with HIV/AIDS around the country who otherwise would not be able to afford medications to keep them alive and healthy. However, many state ADAPs are experiencing severe financial shortfalls and unable to keep pace with the needs of eligible clients. According to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), as of July 29, 2010, over 2,300 people were on waiting lists for medications in thirteen states. Many other states have implemented other cost-containment strategies that have limited treatment access and created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. We will continue to urge President Obama, Congress, and all state governments to contribute sufficient funding for this program to eliminate the waiting lists and other cost containment measures and ensure unfettered access to all eligible clients in need of HIV treatments.

While we continue to call on Congress and the President to provide full funding for ADAP, we denounce AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s plan to stage a “mock funeral” at the Speaker’s home on August 4th. This tactic is part of a legacy of AIDS activism that has been used to protest those in government who have failed to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic or have actively blocked efforts to mount a serious public health effort to protect and save lives. HIV advocates should always hold our elected officials accountable, but the Speaker is the last person in Congress who deserves such treatment.

In fact, we express our deep gratitude and appreciation for Speaker Pelosi’s tireless leadership on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS since the day she took office. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, she always prioritized funding increases for HIV services even in the most hostile political and challenging fiscal periods. Her efforts have created and sustained programs that have kept hundreds of thousands of people with HIV alive and healthy. Since becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, she has continued to demonstrate her fierce commitment by leading efforts to lift the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange and the travel ban for people with HIV/AIDS, reauthorize the Ryan White Program, dramatically increase funding for NIH research, establish our nation’s first National HIV/AIDS Strategy and, most notably, pass comprehensive health reform legislation which will significantly expand access to care for people with HIV/AIDS. Last month, the House Labor-HHS Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a funding bill that provides an increase of over $84 million for the Ryan White program, including a $50 million increase for ADAP. This is $30 million more than the amount proposed for ADAP in the President’s budget.

The entire HIV/AIDS portfolio, including ADAP, must be adequately funded to ensure health and quality of life for all people living with HIV and to reduce new infections. We know that this continues to be a top priority for Speaker Pelosi. We urge all HIV/AIDS advocates to work productively with the Speaker’s office and all Members of Congress to ensure a bipartisan effort to provide the resources necessary to keep ADAP and other programs solvent while we transition to health care reform.

Signed:

AIDS Emergency Fund & Breast Cancer Emergency Fund
AIDS Legal Referral Panel
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
Catholic Charities CYO
Positive Resource Center
Project Inform
Project Open Hand
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco HIV/AIDS Provider Network
San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council
STOP AIDS Project
Women Organized in Response to Life-Threatening Disease (WORLD)

(Organizations below for affiliation purposes only)

Carol L. Brosgart, MD
  Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
  Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland

Cecilia Chung
  Chair, San Francisco Human Rights Commission

James Loyce
  Executive Director, Black Coalition on AIDS

Jim Illig
  President, San Francisco Health Commission

Don Soto
  Program Manager, Money Management
  Lutheran Social Services of Northern California

Lorna Thornton, MD
  Board Chairperson, San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Steve Villano
  Board Member, AIDS Research Alliance

Paul Volberding, MD
  Professor and Vice Chair, UCSF Department of Medicine
  Co-Director, UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research

Quotes from San Francisco HIV/AIDS Community Leaders:

“Speaker Pelosi should be deeply thanked, not criticized by those touched by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She has a career-long history of groundbreaking legislation that has saved the lives of countless persons living with HIV and remains a tireless friend of those with HIV infection and their caregivers. There are challenges in funding HIV care, but we should be confronting those who have always been on the wrong side of the response to HIV, not those who have long been consistent, courageous and correct.” &emdash; Paul Volberding, MD, Professor and Vice Chair, UCSF Department of Medicine and Co-Director, UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research

“Speaker Pelosi has been a champion for people living with HIV/AIDS since she was elected to Congress and spoke about the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in her first floor speech as a member of the House. That commitment has continued over the years and her leadership as Speaker on issues ranging from needle exchange to continued support for Ryan White is a testament that she is not only a friend to the HIV community but a hero.” &emdash; Randy Allgaier, Director of the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council and person living with HIV

“Speaker Pelosi continues to be the strongest champion in the House for persons living with HIV. ADAP would not be the successful program that it is now without her fearless support over the years. Her staff have worked tirelessly on the Ryan White Program and I look forward to working with them to ensure that ADAP is available to all who need it.” &emdash; Laura Thomas, Co-Chair, San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council

“Speaker Pelosi is responsible for ensuring that life-saving services for people with HVI/AIDS in San Francisco continue despite dramatic reductions in our funding. Without her efforts, our model system of care for people with HIV would have been decimated.” &emdash; Bill Hirsh, Executive Director, AIDS Legal Referral Panel

“In the early days of the epidemic, then Congresswoman Pelosi was a voice for people too sick to speak for themselves. Her track record advocating for increased attention and resources to fight AIDS is on par with - and in some cases exceeds - many of us in the community itself. To impugn Speaker Pelosi's leadership on this issue is nonsensical, and we welcome her trademark fearlessness as we continue to explore long-term solutions to the nation's ADAP crisis.” &emdash; Barbara Kimport, Interim CEO, San Francisco AIDS Foundation


About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco AIDS Foundation works to ensure the HIV epidemic ends in the same city where it began. By combining innovative, evidence-based programs for HIV prevention and care with bold policy initiatives focused on issues ranging from harm reduction to total health and wellness, the agency is making sustainable progress against HIV among populations most vulnerable to the disease. Established in 1982, San Francisco AIDS Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.

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