The South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN) is the networking and advisory body for the Florida-Department of Health, Ryan White Care (FL-DOH-RWC) grant in Broward County. Its monthly meetings are open to the public.
The November SFAN meeting focused on four issues:
- A report from the Florida HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Planning Network (FCPN)
- ADAP eligibility
- 2017 ACA Marketplace Insurance, and
- The new antiretroviral, Odefsey.
Kim Saiswick, SFAN’s delegate to FCPN, reported on the statewide FCPN meeting. This meeting draws FL-DOH-RWC workers, HIV service providers, advocates, and top FL-DOH management.
Dr. Jeffrey Beal, FL-DOH HIV Section, described Florida’s aggressive new "Test and Treat" policy. This policy would link the newly HIV diagnosed to antiretroviral treatment (ART). Dr. Beal’s preference would be linkage within 24 hours. While Beal stressed this policy’s voluntary nature, he wants people to have this option. Beal would like this program to “go live” throughout Florida by Dec. 31.
In most of Florida, this would involve calling the County Health Department Clinics to obtain ART. Miami-Dade and Broward, however, lack County Health Department Clinics, but have the highest HIV caseloads in Florida.
Joshua Rodriguez and Justin Bell, FL-DOH-RWC, explained that in Broward, a legal issue blocks this program. Florida buys antiretrovirals (ARVs) at reduced rates. The law that allows reduced-rate purchases also restricts who can prescribe them. Only a FL-DOH doctor can do so. According to Rodriguez, no current FL-DOH-RWC physician can prescribe these ARVs. These already purchased ARVs will remain out-of-reach, pending this legal issue’s outcome.
Miami-Dade County has joined with Jackson Memorial Hospital to resolve this issue. This collaboration allows people who test positive to start treatment within seven days.
After the meeting, Robert LaMendola of FL-DOH said that FL-DOH-Broward would work with DOH HIV/AIDS Section and “community partners towards the goal of implementing the Test and Treat initiative.”
Justin Bell, FL-DOH-RWC, reported that the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) will serve more people. ADAP will now cover premiums for people diagnosed with HIV and with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Bell also reported on RWC and ACA Marketplace plans. United Health Care (UHC) will withdraw from the Marketplace on Dec. 31. RWC clients with UHC plans will have to pick a new plan. ADAP will soon disclose which ACA Marketplace plans RWC will support. If people select a non-supported plan, RWC will be unable to pay their premiums. In order to avoid gaps in coverage, RWC clients will have to select a plan by Dec.15.
People wanting help with ACA enrollment have three options: their RWC case managers; ACA Navigators (954-561-9681 ext. 1342); or 3) the Health Insurance Continuation Program (954-566-1417).
Ed Duda of Gilead discussed a new Gilead ARV, Odefsey. This has a version of tenofovir, less likely to result in bone and kidney problems in people older than 50.
Next SFAN Meeting: Friday, December 2, 2016, at 10 a.m., the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Ft. Lauderdale. Newcomers are encouraged to attend.
“The Florida HIV Needs Assessment Survey” will be open until Jan. 3. People can complete this anonymous survey online at www.floridaneeds.org or on paper, available at County Health Departments.
World AIDS Day – Walk of No Shame – Keeping the Promise, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Dec. 1, starts at 545 NW 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, and ends at Esplanade Park, 400 SW 2nd Street. Keyshia Cole performs.
For more information on Odefsey, please visit bit.ly/2epaOaS.