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Flowers Heritage Foundation and National Minority AIDS Council Partner to Provide Life-Saving Medication for HIV/AIDS Patients with Greatest Need

New Report Shows ADAP Waiting Lists Reach Record High

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 16, 2009 – In response to the growing number of HIV/AIDS patients on AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting lists, the National Minority AIDS Council and the Flowers Heritage Foundation have joined forces to increase awareness of Bridge the Gap, a unique program that provides medication for people currently waiting for ADAP enrollment. The economic downturn combined with increased testing efforts and budget cuts has resulted in the largest waiting list in the program's history with 416 people currently without access to care. These patients can often wait months, even years before they are enrolled in the program and many experience disease progression or even death.

"Bridge the Gap is more important than ever as nine states currently have ADAP waiting lists, with Tennessee being the most recent state to establish one. Even more alarming is the fact that in the last three months alone, the number of individuals waiting for treatment has jumped 167 percent," said Gregory Edwards, Ed.D., executive director of the Flowers Heritage Foundation. "By partnering with the National Minority AIDS Council we are sending an urgent call-to-action to the public to donate funds to help these individuals get life-saving medication."

Bridge the Gap is the only program of its kind that partners with individual states and raises funds for patients on waiting lists to pay for a one-year supply of medication. FHF and NMAC have recently created an online tool to allow individuals to easily and securely make donations to the program.

"We are honored to be working with the Flowers Heritage Foundation on the Bridge the Gap program. Together, we hope to raise awareness about this growing public health issue and hopefully make ADAP waiting lists a thing of the past," said Paul A. Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council. "We also are asking everyone to consider making a donation to the program this holiday season. Even the smallest of gifts will help ensure that families do not lose loved ones simply because they cannot afford treatment."

ADAP is a part of the Ryan White Program and uses federal funding to provide HIV/AIDS-related prescription drugs to low-income, uninsured and underinsured individuals. The number of ADAP patients varies in each state and as demand for the program increases, states often try to contain costs by limiting enrollment, restricting the drug formulary and instituting waiting lists. Nine states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming – currently have waiting lists and more are expected to be announced in the coming months.

"The issue of the waiting lists is a vicious cycle because without care, the disease will progress and become even more expensive to treat with the passage of time," said Rich Fortenbery, spokesperson for the Tennessee AIDS Care and Treatment Improvement Coalition. "Tennessee is a good example of a state where the waiting list is increasing at an alarming rate and, unfortunately, we expect the situation to get worse."

Bridge the Gap was established in 2006 and helped several patients successfully get off of waiting lists before federal policy changes ended waiting lists nationally in 2007. One hundred percent of donations for the program go directly to help patients. Registration, enrollment and other administrative mechanisms for the program are managed by Flowers Heritage Foundation.

About Flowers Heritage Foundation
The Flowers Heritage Foundation is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to identifying and addressing unmet needs in health care services and systems. Based in Oakland, California, the Foundation offers short and long-term public health solutions and works closely with partners, collaborators, communities, and stakeholders to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes. The Foundation was established by the Flowers family and is an outgrowth of their belief in giving back to the communities they serve. For more information, please visit www.flowersheritagefoundation.com.

About National Minority AIDS Council
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) was founded in 1987 to develop leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. NMAC has responded to the needs of communities of color by developing programs enhancing the skills necessary to confront this health crisis, including a public policy education program; national and regional training conferences; treatment and research programs and trainings; numerous publications and a website: www.nmac.org. The agency also serves an association of AIDS service organizations, F/CBOs, hospitals, clinics, health departments and other groups assisting people and families living with and affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC's advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.