Thursday, January 12, 2017

10 Years of Accomplishment, Advocacy & Access to Care

By: Brandon M. Macsata, CEO, ADAP Advocacy Association

It is hard to believe it is true, but 2017 marks the 10-year anniversary for the ADAP Advocacy Association. What started out as an idea by our founder and co-chair, William "Bill" Arnold, and a small start-up grant from Ramsell Corporation, has bloomed into a national voice for people living with HIV/AIDS who rely on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Throughout these ten years one thing has remained true, that the voice of people living with HIV/AIDS shall always be at the table and the center of the discussion.

One of our greatest accomplishments was launching the ADAP Directory, which was initially made possible by generous grants from AbbVie, Merck, and Walgreens. The groundbreaking approach provides a one-stop online resource center for the latest ADAP information for better decision-making for HIV/AIDS care, improved quality of HIV/AIDS information, and assistance for advocates and care providers. In 2016, over 21,000 users visited the ADAP Directory. Additionally, last year we added the "ADAP Eligibility Calculator" as a new user-friendly, patient-centric tool — powered by Pill Pack — designed to provide additional information about possible ADAP eligibility.

The ADAP Directory

Years earlier during the ADAP waiting list crisis, we hosted an Emergency ADAP Summit in Fort Lauderdale just as the Florida ADAP was on the verge of kicking nearly 3,000 patients off of the program. The event embodied activism in motion because patients were speaking out against the growing waiting lists. Behind the scenes the former President & CEO of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, Jeffrey Lewis, was bringing together the necessary players to launch the Welvista Solution — which provided life-saving medications to literally thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS on ADAP waiting lists. We were honored to have played a role in making it happen.

Advocates protesting ADAP waiting lists.

That same year, we released Public Service Announcements on ADAPs to raise awareness about ongoing the ADAP waiting list crisis. The 60-second PSA aired over six weeks from February 21, 2011, to April 3, 2011, over 210 media outlets nationwide. The PSAs were produced by Neil Romano of The Romano Group, LLC – who worked on campaigns such as "Just Say No" and "America Responds to AIDS."

Public Service Announcement on ADAP showing patient with the words, "teammate & friend."

2017 is a new year, and with it will undoubtably come new challenges. There remains much uncertainty over the incoming Trump Administration and its implications for the Affordable Care Act and the Ryan White CARE Act. For now, we are continuing to focus on what has been our stable approach to advocacy: the patients voice! Our 10th Annual Conference — which is slated for September 22-23, 2017 in Washington, DC — is being themed, "Unchartered Water: AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in the Age of Trump." In addition, possible collaborative projects are being planned with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Community Access National Network (CANN), HealthHIV and the Professional Association of Social Workers in HIV & AIDS (PASWHA).

This year, two special education projects are planned to improve access to care among transgender men and women living with HIV/AIDS, as well as linkages to care for incarcerated (and formerly incarcerated) populations. As in years past our Scholarship Fund will ensure that the patients voice remains front and center, and this objective couldn't be achieved without the fund's two chief funders, CANN and Housing Works, as well as the many other supporters.

Access to care has been at the center of our mission, and it will continue to do so. Adherence is key to HIV treatment working, thus promoting a robust AIDS Drug Assistance Program is vital to combatting the disease and ending the epidemic. Though our focus is almost exclusively on ADAPs, we will continue to work with advocates, community, health care, government, patients, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders to raise awareness, offer patient educational program, and foster greater community collaboration.

In closing, we would like to thank our funders because our 10th anniversary couldn't happen without their past and ongoing support. Since 2007, our funders have included: Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie, AIDS Alabama, AIDS Drugs Online, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alibi Wilton Manors, American Association for Homecare, Audio Visuals & Computer Services, Bender Consulting Services, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Broward House, Community (A Walgreens Pharmacy), Community Access National Network, Dab the AIDS Bear Project, DC's Most Fabulous Magazine, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Duane Reade Pharmacy (A Walgreens Pharmacy), EHiM, EMD Serono, Elwyn Specialty Care, Flowers Heritage Foundation, Forthright Strategies, HealthHIV, HMS, Housing Works, Genetech, GettingHired.com, Gilead Sciences, Great Lakes ADA Center, Janssen Therapeutics, Job Accommodation Network, Justin's Cafe, Kellari, Kimptons Hotels & Restaurants, Macsata-Kornegay Group, MedData Services, Merck, MOMS Pharmacy, Morgali Films, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Napo Pharmaceuticals, Number 9, O.B. Sweet, OraSure Technologies, Patient Access Network Foundation, Patient Advocate Foundation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Philadelphia FIGHT, Pill Pack, Public Sector Solutions, Ramsell Corporation, The AIDS Institute, Theratechnologies, Social Security Administration's Ticket-to-Work, Southern AIDS Coalition, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, SunTrust Bank, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, ViiV Healthcare, Walgreens, We Movement, Wells Fargo, Women's Institute For A Secure Retirement, and World AIDS Institute.

But most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of individual supporters who joined our organization, attended our educational events, and/or donated to us. We couldn't have reached 10 years without you!


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