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10 pharmacies named to new AIDS network

Officials say no disruption in prescriptions expected

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Gregory Pappas, gay news, Washington Blade

Dr. Gregory Pappas said the changes being put in place would provide an ‘enhanced quality of services’ to patients. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The D.C. Department of Health on Monday released the names of the first 10 pharmacies to join a new city-run network of pharmacies certified to dispense prescriptions for patients enrolled in the city’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program or ADAP.

Dr. Gregory Pappas, director of the department’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease, and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA), said a DOH overhaul of the pharmacy network would require some patients to switch pharmacies to refill their prescriptions over the next month or two.

But he said the changes being put in place would provide an “enhanced quality of services” to patients while saving money for the city.

“During the transition period — from July 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012 — all eligible and enrolled clients will continue to have access to life-saving medications,” a statement released on Monday by DOH says.

“The transition aims to enhance and expand the services currently provided by initiating a new network of selected pharmacy providers throughout the District,” the statement says.

The DOH announcement came at a time when some AIDS activists and an official with Care Pharmacies, a local private pharmacy network that has operated the city’s ADAP prescription program for more than a decade, predicted that too few pharmacies would join the new network in time to refill prescriptions for patients in the month of July.

DOH announced earlier this year that it decided not to renew Care Pharmacies’ contract to administer the ADAP pharmacy network, saying it would be more efficient and cost effective for the DOH to run its own pharmacy network.

DOH officials initially said they would release the names of the pharmacies participating in the new city-run network on June 15. But the DOH did not meet that deadline, raising concern among some that the new system would not be ready in time for patients to renew their prescriptions beginning July 1, when the Care Pharmacies contract ended.

“The salient factor for patients – and this is very, very important – is no one is going to be denied anti-retroviral [AIDS drugs],” Pappas told the Blade in an interview Monday. “No one’s ADAP status is going to change. No one’s medication status is going to change,” he said.

The new 10-member pharmacy network replaces a Care Pharmacies network that was said to have had at least 24 participating pharmacies. Pappas said the DOH expects the new network to expand over the next month or two.

A DOH spokesperson said eight of the ten pharmacies that joined the new network were among the 24 pharmacies participating in the Care Pharmacies network.

“Every pharmacy in good standing in the District of Columbia that’s got a license, that’s up on their taxes and has a Medicaid certification, can participate,” he said. “This is a very open, equitable system.”

“The DOH procurement team is in the process of inviting all registered pharmacies in the District of Columbia to participate in the new network,” the DOH statement released on Monday says. “The new DOH pharmacy network will be fully operational by Sept. 1, 2012.”

Pappas said that over the past year the city has transferred as many as 1,000 ADAP patients into the city’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, the new health insurance reform law initiated by the Obama administration and upheld last week by the Supreme Court. He said the transfers left about 800 D.C. HIV/AIDS clients remaining in the ADAP program.

One pharmacy missing from the list of participating ADAP pharmacies released this week by the DOH is the one operated by Whitman-Walker Health, a development that surprised AIDS activists.

Last month, Whitman-Walker executive director Don Blanchon told the Blade that Whitman-Walker was serving as many as 400 ADAP patients in its pharmacy under the existing network. He said Whitman-Walker planned to join the new city-run network.

DOH spokesperson Najma Roberts said on Tuesday that as of June Whitman-Walker had actually been serving “about 200 ADAP beneficiaries each month.”

Pappas told the Blade he hoped Whitman-Walker would become part of the network soon during the DOH’s next enrollment period. He declined to comment on why Whitman-Walker wasn’t admitted in the first round.

Whitman-Walker spokesperson Chip Lewis said Whitman-Walker expects to apply for admission to the network in the next round of enrollments, which he expected to take place in the next few days.

“We’re going to apply for that and we fully expect to be added to the list of pharmacies,” he said.

Asked why Whitman-Walker didn’t enroll in the first group of 10 pharmacies, he said, “I think it’s just been the challenges of the transition process.”

Lewis said that during the short period in which Whitman-Walker is not a member of the new pharmacy network it will likely have to refer its current ADAP pharmacy patients to one or more of the other pharmacies in the network.

Lewis said Whitman-Walker ordered extra drug supplies in anticipation of “issues” that might surface in the transition period but said he wasn’t sure if the clinic’s pharmacy could use those drugs to fill prescriptions if the pharmacy wasn’t yet admitted to the new network.

Asked if the new network could accommodate as many as 200 patients from Whitman-Walker along with patients from other pharmacies that chose not to join the new network, DOH’s Roberts said, “The existing network of 10 pharmacies has the capacity to serve clients during the months of July and August.”

Pappas and Gunther Freehill, a DOH official involved in the ADAP program, each said they expect a smooth transition for patients who learn this month that their current pharmacy will no longer fill their ADAP prescription.

“There is a central database repository that has ADAP eligibility information on it and it tells each pharmacy who is eligible for each program,” Freehill told the Blade. “If the client has a current prescription and/or a pill bottle that has refills left on it they can simply go to one of those [pharmacies on the list] and get the bottle filled.”

Added Pappas: “They should take their pill bottle to one of the pharmacies on the list and they will be able to get their medication without delay.”

Following is the list of pharmacies released on Monday by DOH where ADAP patients can go to obtain or refill their prescriptions:

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Blair Underwood Healthcare Center
2141 K St., N.W., Suite 606
202-293-8695

Apex Care Pharmacy
3839 Minnesota Ave., N.E.
202-388-1900

H Street Care Pharmacy & Wellness Center
812 H St., N.E.
202-621-9667

Morgan Pharmacy
3001 P St., N.W.
202-337-4100

Pharmacare @ DC
651 Florida Ave., N.W.
202-387-1600

Seat Pleasant Pharmacy
350 Eastern Ave., N.E.
202-396-3400

Sterling Care Pharmacy
1647 Benning Rd., N.E., Suite 101
202-399-7876

Super Pharmacy and Medical Equipment
1019 H St., N.E.
202-388-0050

Community, a Walgreen’s Pharmacy
1325 14th St., N.W.
202-332-8811

Walgreen’s Pharmacy
1217 22nd St., N.W.
202-776-9084

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lee Magnuson

    July 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    The fact that Whitman-Walker is not FIRST on the new list, and not even ON the new list, is one of most ridiculous, mind-boggling, situations imaginable.
    Lee Magnuson

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Md. biotech company’s HIV cure project clears first hurdle

‘We all have something to be excited about’

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HIV cure, gay news, Washington Blade
‘We all have something to be excited about,’ said AGT CEO Jeff Galvin.

American Gene Technologies, the Rockville, Md., biotech company, has announced that the first patient to receive its genetically engineered treatment therapy aimed at curing people of HIV/AIDS encountered no adverse side effects from the treatment.

In an Aug. 2 statement, AGT said that based on the data obtained from Patient One in its Phase 1 human trial of its HIV treatment called AGT103-T, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board voted unanimously to allow AGT to continue its HIV cure program without modification.

“The AGT103-T pipeline is a therapy for treating HIV disease,” the company’s statement says. “The therapy is designed to induce durable viral suppression by delivering therapeutic genes to the recipient’s immune cells,” it says. “The resulting immune cells are expected to survive attack by HIV and durably suppress the virus at undetectable levels without the need for antiretroviral treatment.”

The thumbs up decision by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board allows the company to continue its clinical trial with more participants to further confirm the HIV treatment’s safety outcome. The next phase in the trials will be to determine the treatment’s effectiveness in fully protecting the human body from HIV.

“We have six more patients,” said AGT CEO Jeff Galvin in referring to the patients who will be tested for possible adverse side effects in the coming weeks. Galvin spoke at a July 29 gathering to celebrate the success of Patient One at AGT’s headquarters offices in Rockville.

“If this works, they will be permanently immune from HIV,” he said. “Just think what this can do with the epidemic. We all have something to be excited about,” he told the gathering of about 100 people.

“Keep your fingers crossed. Let’s all keep hoping and praying,” Galvin said. “We will know by the middle of next year,” he said, referring to when the human trials will likely determine whether the AGT103-T treatment, which has successfully stopped HIV from infecting human cells in laboratory experiments, will work just as effectively on people with HIV.

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92% of LGBTQ+ adults have received at least one dose for COVID-19

59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, & 50% reported that it impacted their mental health.

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

NEW YORK – A summary of data collected as part of the annual LGBTQ+ Community Survey by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, found that the vast majority – 92% – of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed in the United States had received at least one vaccination for Covid-19.

Although vaccination rates vary somewhat within the LGBTQ+ community, the rates across race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and age are well above the rates for various general adult populations where the data are available:

  • By race and ethnicity, 90% of Latinx respondents, 85% of Black respondents, 96% of Asian or Pacific Islander respondents, and 85% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • By gender identity and sexual orientation, 92% of cisgender lesbian and bi+ women, 93% of cisgender gay and bi+ men, and 92% of transgender and non-binary people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • By age, 91% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 18-34, 92% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 35-5, and 94% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 55 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine

While vaccination rates are high, Covid-19 took a toll on well-being among respondents. The survey finds that 59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, and 50% of respondents reported that it impacted their mental health.

“Increasing vaccination rates among communities of color is a major focus for us, and working with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gives us the opportunity to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ communities of color. We look forward to continuing our support and outreach.” said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President of Equity and Economic Opportunity at The Rockefeller Foundation.

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

The data finds the Covid-19 pandemic led to social and financial loss, especially among LGBTQ+ people of color:

  • 21% of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed reported that a close family member or friend has died from Covid-19
  • LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed reported higher levels of loss due to Covid-19 compared to white LGBTQ+ people:
    • 30% of Latinx LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 28% of Black LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 25% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ respondents, among other race identities
    • 18% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 17% of white LGBTQ+ respondents
  • 36% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that a close friend or family member has become very sick from Covid-19
  • 24% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their financial well-being
  • LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed are more likely than white LGBTQ+ people to have experienced a negative financial impact during the pandemic:
    • 33% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities
    • 26% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ adults
    • 26% of Latinx LGBTQ+ adults
    • 25% of Black LGBTQ+ adults
    • 22% of white LGBTQ+ adults

“There are many reasons why LGBTQ+ vaccination rates may be higher than the general population, including higher percentages of the LGBTQ+ community being liberal, living in blue states, and living in urban areas,” said CMI Senior Director of Research, David Paisley. “While participants had strong education levels, those with no more than a high school diploma still had an 87% vaccination rate. We also see that Covid isolation significantly impacted LGBTQ+ people, which may have motivated quick vaccination to reenter the community.”

The new data build on the HRC Foundation’s previously released reports, including the most recent report, “Covid-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic,” which was released as a part of the HRC Foundation’s vaccine public education campaign: “For Ourselves, For Each Other: Getting to the Other Side of the Pandemic.” The HRC Foundation has also partnered with the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition on a resource, “Finding Financial Stability During Turbulent Times,” with steps and advice for those who may be struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times. Read more about the HRC Foundation’s efforts during Covid-19 here.

The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on a number of Covid-19-related projects to support research and community education to reach LGBTQ communities of color during this crisis through The Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative. Learn more here.

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Cornell University study on impact of discrimination on LGBTQ of color

Around 25% of LGBTQ youth have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts

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McGraw Tower, Cornell University (Photo Credit: Cornell University)

ITHACA, NY. – Cornell University’s What We Know Project in conjunction with a coalition of leading LGBTQ rights groups last month published a comprehensive curation of data on studies that chart the intersection of anti-LGBTQ and racial discrimination.

The findings found that discrimination inflicts profoundly greater harm on LGBTQ people of color in a wide range of areas, including grossly disproportionate rates of: experiencing discrimination over  the past year, poorer mental and physical health, greater economic insecurity, and attempts to die by suicide.

 In addition, LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ people to live in states without protections  against discrimination and that state anti-LGBTQ laws harm LGBTQ people. 

“This research brief makes clear the tangible harms that discrimination inflicts on LGBTQ people of color,  and the urgent need for public policy that reflects what the research tells us about how we can reduce those  harms,” said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, the study’s author.

Highlights of the research brief’s findings include

LGBTQ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be people of color, and Black LGBTQ  Americans are disproportionately likely to live in states without protections against discrimination. For  example, 42% of LGBT people are people of color compared to 32% of non-LGBT people and the majority of  Black LGBT Americans live in the South (51.4%, more than twice the share of any other region), where most  states lack anti-discrimination protections. 

LGBTQ people of color face higher odds of discrimination than both non-LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ  white people. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience anti-LGBTQ  discrimination (slurs or other verbal abuse) when applying for jobs than white LGBTQ individuals (32% vs.  13%). LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ people to experience anti-LGBTQ  discrimination when interacting with the police (24% vs. 11%). 

Black LGBT Americans are more likely to experience economic insecurity than Black non-LGBT Americans.  For example, the majority of Black LGBT people (56%) live in low-income households (below 200% of the  federal poverty level) compared to 49% of Black non-LGBT Americans, and Black LGBT adults are also more  likely to experience food insecurity than Black non-LGBT adults (37% compared to 27%). 

Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of poor  mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use, and  psychological distress. 

LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is linked to discrimination. For  example, while 12% of white LGBTQ youth attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous  youth, 21% for LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% of LGBTQ Latinx youth.  

While supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes for LGBTQ people of  color, anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. For example, states  with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents between 2014 and  2016 were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress. Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels  of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting  suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%). 

Supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes  for LGBTQ people of color. 

• Suicide attempts by LGBT youth dropped by 7 percent in states that legalized same-sex marriage.22 

• The corollary is that anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. States with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress.23 

• Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%). Those with high levels of family support had rates of past-year attempted suicide nearly one third as high as those who lacked such support (22% vs. 8%).24 

• Protective measures that have been found to help reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidality among LGBTQ youth include: Establishing inclusive practices and anti-discrimination policies; peer, community, and family support, including dedicated school groups; access to affirmative mental health and social services; societal confrontation of attitudes and norms that exacerbate minority stress; and practitioner training and interventions designed to disrupt negative coping responses and build resilience.

Experiencing discrimination is associated with greater odds of harm to  psychological and economic well-being, which is reflected in data on  disparities for LGBTQ people of color. 

• Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of  poor mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use,  and psychological distress. 

• LGBT people of color have work-place experiences that are more negative than those of white  LGBT employees, reporting that their success and work-life balance are fostered less extensively,  they have less transparent evaluations, and they are respected less by supervisors. 

• Among LGBTQ people surveyed, 51% of Black respondents say discrimination harms their  ability to be hired, compared with 33% of white respondents; 41% say it has an impact on  their ability to retain employment, compared with 31% of white respondents; 77% of Black  respondents report that discrimination impacts their psychological well-being, a rate nearly 50%  higher than the total LGBTQ survey population. 

• While racial discrimination on its own is not associated with mental health disorders, the  combination of racial discrimination with gender and/or sexual orientation discrimination is  significantly associated with increased odds of a past-year mental health disorder.

LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is  linked to discrimination.  

• Around 25% of LGBTQ youth of all races have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly  higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts: While 12% of white LGBTQ  youth have attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous youth, 21% for  LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% for LGBTQ Latinx youth. 

• In a 95%-non-white LGBT sample, those who report experiencing anti-LGBT victimization (such  as bullying and harassment) are 2.5 times more likely to report a past-year suicide attempt  compared to those who do not report victimization. 

• Black LGBTQ youth who experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination face twice the rate of past year suicide attempts compared to youth who do not (27% vs. 12%). Black LGBTQ youth who  experience race-based discrimination also face higher odds of attempting suicide than those  who do not (20% vs. 14%).

• Black LGB adults are over 40% more likely to have made a serious suicide attempt in their  lifetime than white LGB adults. 

• Latinx and Native American/Pacific Islander LGBT youth are 50% more likely to attempt suicide  than white LGBT youth. Latinx LGBT girls are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide than  white LGBT youth.

• LGBTQ students who experience discrimination “based on multiple social identities” report more  use of deliberate self-harm compared to LGBTQ students who experience racial discrimination  alone or who do not experience significant discrimination of any kind.

Reflecting on the study’s findings, key executives from participating LGBTQ Advocacy groups weighed in:

“These painful figures highlight an indisputable link between discrimination, economic security,   mental and physical health. People with multiple stigmatized, marginalized social and political identities, particularly Black LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving people, bear a disproportionate amount  of the weight illustrated by the data in this study. Statutory equality for LGBTQ+ people nationwide is a necessary foundation to remove the gaps in existing civil rights laws if we are to ever live up to  our country’s founding promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all,”  said David Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition.

The majority of Black LGBTQ people live in the South, with nearly half (44%) of all Black women couples raising children. Even today, most of these states still do not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and have overtly discriminatory laws on their books. It is no wonder the disparities are so profound and it is a testament to the strength and resilience of our people that they are doing  as well as they are. For our community and for our children it’s time for federal action!” said Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

“This important brief only further solidifies what we have known for a very long time—the combination of racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination has serious and long-lasting effects for the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of color. This research highlights why federal non-discrimination protections are overdue and vital to protecting the most some of the most underrepresented and vulnerable members of our community. Federal anti-discrimination protections are absolutely necessary in protecting and supporting all LGBTQ people, and this is especially true for LGBTQ people of color,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“Study after study shows that nondiscrimination protections improve economic opportunities, public  safety, and physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ people. It is well past time for the essential protections available only in some of our states and cities to be extended to all LGBTQ Americans, especially LGBTQ people of color, who are disproportionately burdened by the lack of protections, ” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director, Freedom for All Americans.

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