For immediate release - A coalition of more than 40 local non-profits, churches, community-based-organizations and businesses will host the Asheville HIV/AIDS Awareness Walk 2011 on Saturday, November 5th at 11am. Walkers will gather at The Grove House Complex at 11 Grove Street and then move uptown to rally at Pack Square. County Commissioner David Gantt, local writer and poet Dennis Tillman and longtime HIV/AIDS activist Michael Harney are slated to speak among others. Drumming for the walk will be provided by Billy Zanski of Skinny Beats Drum Shop and Gallery and local singer-songwriter Jaime Lauren Webb will perform. Commemorative walk t-shirts will be available for a five dollar donation.
The mission of the free awareness walk is to bring attention to the ongoing issue of HIV/AIDS infection in Western North Carolina and to inform the public about the current funding crisis of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program which provides life-saving medications to low-income North Carolinians living with HIV/AIDS in this state.
North Carolina has the most restrictive ADAP financial eligibility criteria of any state, with over 350 HIV+ people with incomes of 126-300% of the federal poverty line wait listed for ADAP. At least 17 other states have instituted other so-called “cost-containment” measures that include reduced formularies, capped enrollment and lowered financial eligibility
“We are well into the 30th year of confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Failing to ensure that all individuals living with HIV/AIDS have access to their medications is not only a moral failing, it is dangerous for public health,” said Jeff Bachar, executive director of the Western North Carolina AIDS Project. “Those people who receive their medications and are able to adhere to their treatment regimen have better health outcomes and are also significantly less likely to transmit the infection to others.”
HIV/AIDS advocate Bill Gambacort, who has been living successfully despite his HIV-infection, notes the economic cost that results in the lack of sustainable funding for the ADAP program. “Thousands of people like me rely on their medications to help them live productive lives. We work. We pay taxes. Without affordable access to medications people living with HIV or AIDS cannot stay well enough to contribute back to the community. We want to share this message at the walk. The community needs to know the importance of funding the ADAP program at both a state and national level.”
Western North Carolina AIDS Project is dedicated to providing HIV related services to the people of Western North Carolina through client support, prevention education and outreach activities. WNCAP serves approximately 400 clients in 18 Western North Carolina counties from offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Shelby and Sylva NC. WNCAP Educators provide evidenced-based prevention interventions to hundreds of men, women and youth every year. WNCAP is nationally recognized as a leader in efforts to fight the fear and stigma of HIV/AIDS with its “I need U2 know” campaign.
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