The Black AIDS Institute family continues to pray for all of our brothers and sisters struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We also share the widespread concerns voiced by our community leaders that the federal response to yet another public health disaster for poor Black Americans has once again been too slow and too little, and we join the community in demanding answers as to why that is the case.
One of the many building health challenges in the disaster area is keeping poor people living with HIV and AIDS healthy. The National AIDS Fund has established a Katrina HIV/AIDS Emergency Fund to support agencies working to do just that. The National AIDS Fund is also trying to identify individuals who have been relocated around the country and help link them with appropriate care. The group planned to release applications for local AIDS organizations seeking help today; those wishing to donate to the effort can do so online.
The AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families also established a relief fund for AIDS service agencies in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The group announced on Friday, Sept. 9, that it has raised nearly $30,000, all of which will go directly to local programs working with people with AIDS. You can find more information about the fund and donate to its ongoing campaign online.
Helping those who were in treatment when the storm struck not interrupt their drug regimen is also a challenge. The Texas Department of Health has stepped in to provide a month’s supply of meds for Katrina survivors who were enrolled in ADAP programs in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Those who qualify can apply online or call (800)255-1090. BlackAIDS.org has received unconfirmed reports of other states around the country that have begun or are considering similar efforts.
Gilead Sciences also announced on Wednesday, Sept. 7, that it would offer people displaced by Katrina “expidited enrollment” in its patient assistance program, through which uninsured people can get meds. Gilead will waive the standard documentation requirements for the program, which it calls “Advancing Access,” and offer two months’ worth of prescriptions to displaced patients who need one of the four HIV meds it manufactures (Truvada, Viread, Emtriva, or Hepsera). To apply or inquire, call (800) 226-2056.
Gilead also said Wednesday it will replinish the stocks of area ADAPs that, like Texas, offer meds to displaced patients from the affected states.
In Los Angeles tonight, Monday, Sept. 12, the performers who sponsor the annual DIVAS Simply Singing concert to benefit AIDS work are putting on a special benefit show to raise money for Katrina survivors. For those in the Los Angeles area, the event will be held at the El Rey Theater at 5515 Wilshire Blvd., doors opening at 7 p.m. and performance starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $25.
For those looking for ways to help outside of the Los Angeles area, the National Minority AIDS Council has compiled an exhaustive resource page. It both directs people with HIV/AIDS in the disaster area to places where they can get help and offers suggestions for people looking to donate money and time. POZ magazine has also compiled a resources page.