Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ryan White. Real Lives.

(This post is derived in its entirety from a post on the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance website for the #RyanWhiteTreatmentWorks campaign, available HERE.)

Ryan White. Real Lives. Meet Morenike Giwa

 | February 10, 2015
Texas ranks 4th in the nation in deaths among adults with an HIV diagnosis. The State of Texas has not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, an estimated 11,200 of the lowest-income HIV+ residents of Texas have been left out of coverage available in other states. They must rely on Ryan White funding for crucial medical care and other supportive services.  In 2011, an estimated 38,978 Texans received services through the Ryan White program.

Morénike GiwaMorenike Giwa
Houston, TX
The course of my life changed forever when my family became affected by HIV in 2007. I was afraid and unsure how to proceed — there was so much to keep track of with doctor’s appointments, medicine regimens, plus the mental stress and stigma of being part of a family dealing with HIV. Ryan White Part D services and the Texas HIV Medication Program (our state AIDS Drug Assistance Program) have been a lifeline for our family.
We have benefited from Part D services like medical case management, linkage to mental health treatment, transportation assistance, and educational programs. Several local Ryan White providers are offered in beautiful facilities with many great programs, and even more importantly, staff that provides all services in an inclusive, respectful, and culturally competent way. With Ryan White Part D, the services focus on how to help the whole family, recognizing that it’s not just about the person who is living with HIV. It’s truly a family-centered medical home model.
The Texas HIV Medication Program (THMP) has been critical in helping us maintain access to life-saving medications when we have experienced gaps in insurance coverage. THMP has allowed our family to stay adherent to the prescribed medications, maintain an undetectable viral load, and avoid treatment interruptions that can lead to developing a drug-resistant strain of HIV.
I shudder to think what would happen to families like mine without the Ryan White Program. It’s not just about access to medicine, although that’s so important. It’s also about connecting with other families affected by HIV. For my children, who are growing up in an HIV affected family, it’s about meeting other affected and/or positive youth and supporting each other. It’s about learning to hold your head up high, to refuse to be ashamed of this disease and the stigma it carries, to learn to be an advocate for yourself and your family.
My children are the heart of our family, and they are growing up free of HIV stigma. They are six amazing young people—four of whom came home to us from three different African countries, and two who were born in the U.S. Without the support of Ryan White Program services, particularly Part D, we would never have been able to grow and thrive as a family as well as we have. I now know that HIV isn’t the end of the story; it’s merely a new beginning. My family has been transformed by Ryan White services—please keep this crucially important program intact.

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Co-sponsors: AIDS United, Southern AIDS Strategy Initiative, Southern AIDS Coalition, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, HIVHealthReform.org, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
This campaign has been made possible by the generous support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

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