Coalition to Address the State of HIV/AIDS in Indiana; Calls for HIV Gap Fund to Address Medical Costs Under New Medicare/Medicaid

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The Indiana Minority Health Coalition (IMHC), the state’s leading minority health research and community care agency, today launches its 2006 Indiana Minority Health Call to Action focusing on HIV/AIDS. The agency will offer several advocacy activities and rally statewide support of a new fund, “The HIV Gap Fund,” to offset increased changes in state and federal support.

The Indiana Minority Health Coalition (IMHC), the state’s leading minority health research and community care agency, today launches its 2006 Indiana Minority Health Call to Action focusing on HIV/AIDS. The agency will offer several advocacy activities and rally statewide support of a new fund, “The HIV Gap Fund,” to offset increased changes in state and federal support.

The theme of this year’s initiative is “Think Global Act Local: a focus on HIV/AIDS.” IMHC, along with a planning group comprised of People Living with HIV and AIDS, public health leaders, elected officials, and faith, community and business leaders, will engage in advocacy and action days around the state culminating with a march from Monument Circle in Indianapolis to the Indiana State House on April 19, from 1 -3 p.m.; and the 12th annual initiative luncheon featuring an international celebrity, humanitarian and HIV/AIDS spokesperson on April 20 at The Westin Hotel, in downtown Indianapolis, from 11 am – 2 pm.

Since 1981 when the first cases were diagnosed, AIDS has killed

more than 20 million people, in the minorities/ethnic communities, accounting for 40 percent of those deaths. In addition, in the United States racial/ethnic minorities account for more than 40 percent of the estimated 944,306 AIDS cases that have been diagnosed, making up 12.2 percent of the population.

To address this health concern, IMHC will work with community members to encourage them to take action within their counties. The organization is partnering with the 12 regions for the initiative, based on care coordination sites defined by the Indiana State Department of Health. Volunteers and participants in each region will receive HIV/AIDS Issues and Action Toolkits that will include current Indiana HIV/AIDS data and talking points that affect those infected and impacted; guide communities on developing their own local events; and develop methods to engaged elected officials such as the HIV/AIDS education day.

HIV/AIDS education is the priority for the initiative with the key message of getting support for the HIV Gap Fund to help save Hoosier lives. The fund is critical to Indiana residents who lack financial and social support resources. People living with HIV/AIDS and other life altering diseases are in a difficult position because they can not absorb the high cost of medications. Some HIV/AIDS medications alone range from $800-$1,250 per person per month.

The HIV Gap Fund will provide individuals with resource to help obtain their medication if they are faced with shortfalls in insurance, co-pays, spend downs or lack of social services.

“IMHC is dedicated to closing the gap in health care in our communities. We are rallying to save the lives of our loved ones, neighbors and co-workers. The HIV/AIDS education and advocacy activities from now through April are just our way of bringing awareness about this health epidemic and the action needed to prolong life right here in Indiana,” said IMHC CEO and President Nancy Jewell.

For more information on how to participate in IMHC’s Call to Action: HIV/AIDS Lobby Days, call 1-877-367-4642

About IMHC: The Indiana Minority Health Coalition is a statewide non-profit organization formed by a grassroots movement in 1992 to ensure that no racial or ethnic minority child, adolescent, or adult suffers more from a preventable adverse health condition than non-minorities. IMHC has 16 local coalition affiliates servicing 29 counties throughout the state that provide a myriad of health programs and services to the community with the goal of eliminating health disparities.

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Tysha Hardy-sellers
INFINITE INC.
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