More than 2,000 HIV patients in Florida could be at risk after Florida Medicaid denied the renewal of an HIV care contract with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Positive Healthcare.
AHF isn’t taking the rejection lying down. On Tuesday they organized a protest in front of the Broward County Area Office of Florida’s Medicaid agency on Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
"I was at the rally to support AHF because they are so experienced and well positioned to provide complete and informed medical care to the HIV community,” said Hugh Beswick, president of the AIDS World Museum in Wilton Manors.
A press release from AHF stated that this potential disruption of care “is certain to disrupt care for a population of nearly 2,000 vulnerable Florida HIV patients.”
About 50 people attended the protest insisting that state officials renew its Medicaid contract with Positive Healthcare.
It was not AHF’s only attempt to alter the public outcome of this decision.
In addition to the protest on Tuesday they are also running full page ads Sunday, April 8, in five major daily Florida newspapers, asking “Why Are Florida Medicaid Officials Disrupting Healthcare Coverage for People Living with HIV?”
The newspapers include the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel.
“We will be pressing a campaign to educate the public—including all Floridians living with HIV—as well as other Florida state officials and bureaucrats to persuade officials to reconsider their cancellation of the contract,” Michael Kahane, AHF’s southern region co-coordinator said in a prepared statement.
Another similar protest is being held this morning, April 11, in Dade County at their local Medicaid office as well. Similar crowds are expected to attend.
AHF’s newspaper advocacy ads were designed to include some pointed statistics about HIV in Florida, including the following facts:
- Nearly 5,000 people in Florida were infected with HIV in 2016 alone, which means one out of every eight new HIV infections in the United States occurred in Florida.
- South Florida leads the nation in new HIV diagnoses at 38.7 new infections per every 100,000 people. In contrast, the overall rate in the United States is 12.3 new infections per every 100,000 people.
- Nearly 136,000 Floridians are estimated to be living with HIV, but one in six is still not aware of his or her HIV-positive status.
- More than 30,000 Floridians currently living with HIV are not receiving care for their infection.
The ad also urged readers to go to the website: HIVcare.org/Florida to learn more and how they can support those living with HIV.
“Many Florida Medicaid patients living with HIV have been seeing their doctor for years, even decades, and are thriving in care,” Michael Weinstein, President of AHF, said in a prepared statement. “These same patients will suffer disruption of treatment and can suffer substandard care if they are simply dumped into the general patient population, or if their care is jobbed out by huge, for-profit insurance companies for treatment by a family medicine doctor or general practitioner without HIV expertise.”
Editor’s Note: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest global AIDS organization, and currently provides medical care and/or services to over 889,000 individuals in 39 countries worldwide. Advertising for its multiple local services, clinics, physicians, and pharmacies regularly appear in SFGN.