Desert AIDS Project
(760) 323-2118

Desert AIDS Project Community Action Newsletter


In This Issue

Free meningitis vaccines remain available at D.A.P.

Given our proximity to Los Angeles and the recent outbreak of meningitis there, D.A.P. is offering free vaccines on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 AM and 2:00-4:00 PM. If you've had a meningitis vaccine in the last four years – such as last April when D.A.P. also offered it for free – it's not necessary to get another. If, however, you did not receive the second shot (booster) last year, you should consult with a D.A.P. provider. Appointments for these vaccines are highly recommended (call 760.992.0488 or 760.992.0452) but no one will be turned away if they have not called in advance. (sb)

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Tenofovir and kidney disease

Researchers have developed a scale to predict kidney disease in HIV-positve men. Traditional kidney disease risk factors -- age, glucose, systolic blood pressure, hypertension, triglycerides and proteinuria were factored with CD4 count to develop the scale. The researchers hope it will be useful to patients and their prescribing physicians, to facilitate clinical decision-making around tenofovir, which is half the component of Truvada. This is crucial over the long term as Truvada is the main drug in PrEP therapy. Read the study abstract here. (ej)

Drugs used in organ transplants may fight HIV reservoirs

Researchers have known for years that HIV "reservoirs" remain in the body even on ART therapy, but the reason and mechanisms that allow the virus to hide (sometimes in the brain and endocrine tissues) remain mysterious. Now, a new study suggests that immunosuppressant drugs used in organ transplants may help fight HIV in reservoirs. It's a very early finding, but promising. Click here to read more. (sb)

European liver specialists recommend new HCV drug combinations

The European Association for the Study of the Liver has issued new guidelines for treatment of hepatitis C. Their guidelines move beyond U.S. recommendations issued in January, and encourage European physicians to combine products from different companies to achieve the most potent interferon-free regimens, some of these in advance of full Phase 3 trial data. This suggests that physicians don't intend to be constrained by licensing indications or the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to deliver "exclusive" drug combinations formulated by a single company. To read the European guidelines, click here. To read the American guidelines, at a regularly updated site, click here. (ej)

Similarities between HIV and opiate addiction epidemics

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the current epidemic of opiate addictions in some ways resembles the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many addiction victims are young, previously healthy and already stigmatized. Effective care is compromised by public perception that only certain marginalized groups become addicts. The death toll of the two epidemics is comparable, but response to opioid addiction is not yet as effective. Roughly 16% of the U.S. population is addicted to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, with prescription opioids the fastest-growing type of drug addiction: they now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. The researchers describe how the HIV/AIDS epidemic spurred a novel public health approach centered on human rights, and hope to see that applied to opioid addicts. Click here to read more on why we're having an opiate addiction problem. (ej)

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Medical marijuana laws refined

On April 7, a diverse group of medical marijuana activists, organized by Americans for Safe Access, briefed Congressional staff in an ongoing effort to reclassify marijuana for medical use. The next day, the Maryland House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new medical marijuana bill, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley this week, making Maryland the 21st medical marijuana state. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a guideline to financial institutions, allowing them to work with medical marijuana businesses in states where such businesses are legal, while reminding them that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The institutions are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report on all marijuana businesses they work with. Reports range from "Limited," which indicates the business is in compliance with state law and does not violate any of the priorities of the federal memo, to "Priority," suggesting that it might be in violation, to "Termination," if the onstitution determines a clear violation. To read the guidelines in full, click here. (ej)

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Keep up with marriage equality developments

At this writing there are 64 pending lawsuits (43 in federal courts and 21 in state courts), involving how marriage laws of 30 states apply to same-sex couples. Most legal experts agree that some issues, especially whether all states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are now legal, will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But process of law grinds slowly and that could be months or years away. Meanwhile, click here for a handy chart from Lambda Legal to keep track. (sb)

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Keep track of healthcare reform changes

If you are on Medicare, it's important to keep track of ongoing changes in coverage and payment options.  Most importantly, the "donut hole" of Medicare Part D drug plan co-pays begins to close this year (see below).  Regardless of your current insurance situation, click here for a government website that provides some guidance regarding Medicare, Medicaid and other possible insurance options (albeit limited) for those living with disabilities and/or chronic health issues (pay particular attention to the Medicare and Timeline tabs).  And click here for an even more detailed summary.  (sb) 

ADAP may pay Medicare Part D premium

ADAP-eligible clients who have to purchase Part D prescription drug coverage may qualify to have their Part D premium paid by the State of California. Follow this link to the Part D Premium Payment Program Application. You can also call the State of California at 916.449.5900 for more information.  (jl) 

Help with Medicare

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers one-on-one counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families.  This includes information about original Medicare, Medicare Health Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Supplemental policies and Long-term Care Insurance.  The California Department of Aging (CDA) is responsible for statewide administration of SHIP, which is delivered through the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP).  HICAP services can be accessed via a toll-free line at 800.434.0222.  The local HICAP counselor is located at the Mizell Center in Palm Springs and can be reached at 760.323.5689.  Follow this link for more information. 

Help paying for prescription medications

Among the resources available to HIV-positive people to help pay for prescription medications is NeedyMeds. The mission of NeedyMeds is to make information about assistance programs available to low-income patients and their advocates at no cost.  Go  to www.needymeds.org, look up the  medications you need and you'll be directed to the patient assistance program website for that manufacturer.  The site  also offers a free drug discount card that is accepted at more than 62,000 pharmacies.  If you are having trouble paying for your medications this site is worth a look!  (jl) (sb) 

Help paying for private health insurance premiums

If you or someone you are close to is HIV positive and paying for private health insurance, there may be help in paying premiums. The California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS (OA) administers the Health Insurance Premium Payment (OA-HIPP) Program.  OA has expanded OA-HIPP to make this program available to more individuals with health insurance who are at risk of losing it, and to individuals currently without health insurance who would like to purchase it.  You do NOT need to be a D.A.P. client to access OA-HIPP.  Follow this link to see if you qualify, and also check out the above links in the Healthcare reforms article. (jl) (sb)  

Quest Diagnostics website

Riverside County Healthcare (RCHC) Lab services are provided at both Riverside County Regional Medical Center (RCRMC) in Moreno Valley and Quest Diagnostics.  All former LabCorps patients are now served at Quest.  Click here or above for the Quest website: locations, hours and to make an appointment. 

Medically Indigent Services Program (MISP) & AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)

For those who qualify, medical care and help paying for your medications are available through the MISP and ADAP programs.* Find out if you qualify: schedule an appointment by calling the numbers below. You can schedule your MISP and ADAP appointments together for Moreno Valley office ONLY. Call no sooner than four weeks before your ADAP qualifying expiration date (usually around your birthday). If you qualify for ADAP only, the local ADAP office is right across the driveway, south of D.A.P., at the Palm Springs Family Care Center. Specify the Palm Springs office when you call. Here are the numbers:

877.501.5085 - toll free
951.486.5375 - English
951.486.5400 - Spanish
951.486.4635 - fax

*NOTICE: Faxed MISP applications can get lost in the process. Many people who have faxed their application have had to re-apply later. It's best to apply in person in Moreno Valley, and get a "receipt of application", and use that as proof that you applied to avoid uninterrupted services with your D.A.P. medical doctor visits.

D.A.P. contact information

The Desert AIDS Project local phone number is 760.323.2118. The toll-free phone number is 866.331.3344 and the website is desertaidsproject.org.

DAPCAN back issues always available online

Need another look at something you read in DAPCAN? Find past issues online by clicking this link. As always, you can also read the most current edition of DAPCAN on the D.A.P. website at www.desertaidsproject.org/newsletter

D.A.P. holiday closings for 2014

January 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 17 — Presidents' Day
March 31 — Cesar Chavez Day
May 26 — Memorial Day
July 4 — Independence Day
September 1 — Labor Day
October 13 — Columbus Day
November 27-28 — Thanksgiving
December 25-26 — Christmas

Call 211 for essential human services in Riverside County

2-1-1 is a toll-free service for residents looking for information about essential human services such as affordable housing, food pantries, help for an aging parent, free or low cost health services, addiction prevention programs, employment, support groups, volunteer opportunities, and 1,700 additional services! (jl)

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Your annual ADAP/MISP appointment

For those who meet income eligibility requirements, medical care and help paying for medications may be available through state MISP and ADAP programs. To qualify: call the numbers below and schedule an appointment. (You can schedule your MISP and ADAP appointments together for Moreno Valley office ONLY.) Call no sooner than four weeks before your ADAP qualifying expiration date (usually around your birthday). If you qualify for ADAP only, the local ADAP office across the driveway, south of D.A.P., at the Palm Springs Family Care Center. Specify the Palm Springs office when you call and make sure you have all documents required! Delays can cause lapses in drug coverage.

877.501.5085 - toll free 951.486.5375 - English
951.486.5400 - Spanish/espanol 951.486.4635 - fax

Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to get through to make appointments by phone. We were recently notified that there is now an individual at Window 2 next door at the Palm Springs Family Care Center that can schedule appointments and process demographics changes. If it is more convenient, you can walk next door to schedule your MISP/ADAP appointment in person. (jl)

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Let Disability.gov guide you to information you need

Are you looking for information about how much work you need to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, or how to apply for benefits? Are you searching for an affordable place to live, or want to find ways to make your home accessible? Do you need help finding a job, or want to learn how working might affect your Social Security disability payments? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then check out these guides on Disability.gov:

Disability.gov's guides answer many of the most frequently asked questions about eligibility for disability benefits, locating job training services, as well as housing assistance programs for individuals with disabilities. In addition, Disability.gov’s Guide to Getting Help in Your Community has information about programs and organizations near you that provide other services and supports, including health care, temporary financial assistance for families, and help paying home heating bills. (jl)

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Get Social Security forms online

A reminder that starting in February, form requests for proofs of income and Social Security numbers will not be available at local Social Security offices as in the past. Now you must go online for those documents at socialsecurity.gov or call 800.772.1213. Remember that the forms can be printed out immediately but phone requests will take approximately seven days to receive by mail. You need these forms not only for Social Security, but also to apply at D.A.P., for ADAP and MediCAL, most updates and other insurance and eligibility requirements. If you have no computer, you may use the computer lab at D.A.P. and print your forms there. (sb)

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New Fact Sheets available to help with ACA questions

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released a series of easy-to-understand consumer fact sheets for those who are enrolling or have newly enrolled in healthcare plans through the ACA marketplace. A list of topics, with links to the fact sheets, is available here. (ej)

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