Thursday, July 19, 2018

UPDATE: Hey Trump! Hands Off Our Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program!

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

The ADAP Blog last week addressed troubling news that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ("HHS") planned to divert funds from existing programs to pay for the rising cost associated with the Trump Administration's controversial "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. This statement was indeed true (as fact checked by Snopes),[1] though fortunately the impact is debatable since none of the diverted funding came from the current year's program. What it did accomplish was to ignite a firestorm among many in the HIV grassroots community.

Snopes: True

The good news, especially for the HIV grassroots community, is none of the transferred funding will impact Ryan White-funded supports or services to people living with HIV/AIDS for the current program year. The transfer included expired Ryan White funds from FY 2016, which hadn't been spent and was due to be returned to the U.S. Treasury. Basically the news is still bad, but not nearly as bad as initially thought.

Though news about HHS transferring funds only broke last week by Slate, it has subsequently been determined that the transfer request was made in January 2017. As reported by POLITICO, nearly $200 million in funds were moved to address the refugee crisis, including "at least $17 million in unspent funds on the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program."[1]

Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding, raised an excellent point in the POLITICO article when she argued, "If there’s leftover money from Ryan White, it should go to support programs for poor people with HIV and AIDS, not this outrageous separation policy."[3]

This point is exactly why the flames are still burning among many grassroots activists at the state and local levels. It begs the question, couldn't those Ryan White dollars have been used to expand drug formularies under the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs ("ADAP") to pay for anti-diarrhea medications, or Hepatitis C ("HCV") therapies for people co-infected with HCV, or lipodystrophy treatments? These concerns were spelled out in a blog earlier this year.

Donald J. Trump
Photo Source: NY Magazine

Furthermore, at what point does the HIV community draw a red line with the Trump Administration and its Family-Research Council ("FRC") cronies known for their anti-immigrant, racist, homophobic, and misogynistic views? This Administration has been attacking people living with HIV/AIDS for the last eighteen months by proposing harsh federal budgetsdemonstrating a flagrant disregard for the public health systemignoring key leadership postssanctioning discrimination by healthcare workersundermining the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and most recently deleting 20 years of critical medical guidelines. Make no mistake...Trump and the FRC have brought the fight to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Overall the Ryan White program, in general, and ADAPs, specifically, are extremely well-run programs. This is a message that the community should embrace, and not run away from out of fear. The best defense is a good offense!


[1] Garcia, Arturo (2018, July 13). Are Federal HIV Treatment Funds Being Used for Immigrant Internment? Snopes. Retrieved from:

[2] Diamond, Dan (2018, July 18). Trump’s migrant fiasco diverts millions from health programs. POLITICO. Retrieved from:
[3] Diamond, Dan (2018, July 18). Trump’s migrant fiasco diverts millions from health programs. POLITICO. Retrieved from:

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