By Sonia Rastogi – The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), is a safety net that provides life-saving medications to people living with HIV. Due to a funding crisis, as of September 2010, 3,441 people are on waiting lists to access medication. South Carolinians, Pat Kelly, founder of A Family Affair and founding member of PWN, and Bonetta Graves, coordinator at Wateree AIDS Task Force, discuss the need for action in their state where the ADAP waiting list is growing.
Pat and Bonetta spoke with SC Sen. Graham about the state’s growing waiting list at the ADAP Summit in D.C. but South Carolina will not invest more money. “If one-third of the HIV-positive people in South Carolina come out to rally … then the state would not be able to cut ADAP funding,” but right now legislators do not see the need says Pat.
It is vital to think about how the ADAP crisis affects the lives of HIV-positive people’s family members and children. Bonetta emphasized that for women, “there are a lot of things [they] are going to be cut off from,” without HIV treatment, including the ability to work and take care of their family.
TAKE ACTION! Step one: EDUCATION. Find out how you or your community is affected by the ADAP crisis: does ADAP provide your life-saving medication? “Somebody is going to have to pull their heads up out of the sand . . . to get started,” says Bonetta. Step two: EMPOWERMENT. “We need to start looking at medication from a human rights standpoint.” Pat says “We have a right to medication. … It is a right to health!” Step three: SPEAK OUT! Contact your local ASO or e-mail us at positivewomensnetworkusa(at)gmail.com.