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7,500 Americans Can’t Get AIDS Meds (Video)

7,500 Americans Can’t Get AIDS Meds (Video)

At least 7,415 Americans are sitting on HIV/AIDS drugs waiting lists — and activists say some of them are dying in the queue.

Yesterday, AIDS advocates held an “Occupy Gilead” event to protest the multinational drug company’s pricing of its HIV/AIDS medications. They staged a mock funeral in memory of those who have died of AIDS while on AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waitlists.

The protest organizers, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), said:

In the spirit of the “Occupy” movement, [we] hope to call attention to the severe AIDS drug crisis facing the nation’s ADAPs – a network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide – as well as to the fact that Gilead Sciences’ executives are a part of the “1 percent.” [Our] goal is to raise public awareness and educate community members – including Gilead employees – regarding the steep prices that government programs are paying for Gilead’s blockbuster HIV/AIDS drug, Atripla, currently $10,000 per patient, per year for ADAP.

As of November 17, there are 6,595 people on waiting lists in twelve states, according to ADAP Watch, published regularly by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), plus 445 people who have been dropped and 281 people unable to enroll because of lowered eligibility. These are under-estimates.

With state budgets stretched thin and increasing numbers of unemployed workers without health insurance, many states have been forced to cap enrollment in their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. Thousands more Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been dropped from the program or made ineligible to receive medications through ADAP due to stricter eligibility requirements.

ADAPs serve about one third of people on AIDS treatment in America, around 165,000 people.

Dale Gluth, AHF’s Associate Regional Director, Bay Area, said:

The nation’s network of AIDS Drug Assistance Programs face desperate circumstances due to the high prices of drugs like Gilead’s Atripla. AHF is willing to work in partnership with Gilead toward solutions for ADAP and to create and foster dialogue with the community. However, as long as companies like Gilead continue to pursue pricing policies that conflict with the greater good, as well as the health and well-being of the public, we will not stop asking for change.

The AHF is calling on supporters to send an e-letter to Gilead CEO John Martin by visiting

Related stories:

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The ‘Broken Promises’ by Rich Countries on HIV/AIDS (Video)

Making AIDS History

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Occupy Gilead Protest & Funeral Procession photo AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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7:41PM PST on Feb 6, 2012

This is sad. ANOTHER reason I say: MEDICARE FOR ALL. Health care is a human right. No one should die because they are too poor to afford meds.

2:05PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

That's unaccpetable and inexcusable.

Christine S., your hateful, ignorant comment highlights the types of attitudes people hold against those with HIV/AIDS and why there are so many stigmas placed on them. It's not all about sex, AIDS/HIV can be transmitted from blood transfusions, mother-to-child, etc. all ways that Andrea C. pointed out. Everyone should be able to get the medication they need for whatever diseases or disorders they have, not just the people you think are worthy of being alive. I really pity people like you that are so callous, holier than thou and pathetic. You'd be singing a different tune if you needed medication and couldn't gain access to it. All human life has value.

12:03PM PST on Dec 5, 2011

Do you not realize the hundreds of thousands of seniors and disabled who face the same thing every month?

Meds or food....meds or heat....meds or lights.

9:30PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

Christine S. who ever you are. Not a very sensitive comment and there are other ways of becoming HIV positive, for example blood transfusions, contaminated needles, mother or father HIV=baby HIV.

1:36PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

This is dreadful news for those sufferers.

7:37PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Even if it's not perfect, patients deserve a right to treatment, and the way these pharma-cos are treating people like dollar signs instead of real, living people with serious beyond sickening.

What's even worse, is how little I know about them. Hopefully other commentators can educate me a bit.

9:42PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Remember that the AIDS virus evolves to defeat what we throw at it. We threw AZT at it and HIV became resistant to it. Now AZT is part of the triple cocktail given to HIV patients.

When do you suppose HIV will defeat the protease inhibitors too? Or the CCR5?

9:36PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

I miss doses of antidepressants and diabetes, allergy, stomach acid antagonists, statins (anti-cholesterol), anti-lipid drugs. If I was on protease inhibitors I would be dead.

Fortunately the worst that happens to me without the antidepressants is I feel crummy, and maybe my blood sugar and cholesterol spike, and I get acid reflux, and I actually absorb all the fat I eat, and my nose is sensitive to pollen dust or dander.

Don't mess with HIV.

9:30PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Larry Kramer was one of the first HIV infected people about 1980. He is now kept alive by protease inhibitors but the drugs take a heavy toll. They must be taken at exactly on schedule around the clock. The drugs may require an empty stomach. There are side effects such as redistribution of fat to the stomach (protease paunch).

You don't want to be Larry Kramer, and I am sure he would be the first to agree.

Anyone else want to comment about the severe effects and demands of HIV drugs, such as someone actually taking them???

9:22PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Shockingly, there are idiots out there thinking they don't need to practice safe sex, because if they get AIDS, they can just take medication. Well, dummies, you can't AFFORD the drugs- so wear a condom, or keep your pants zipped!

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