Dear Loyal AIDS Action Baltimore (AAB) Supporters:
I am writing a special letter to you in addition to the enclosed letter that outlines our usual stellarachievements for people with HIV, including HIV prevention, antiviral (ARV) research and cure researchadvocacy, HIV testing, healthcare linkage support as well as ARV treatment and PrEP HIV preventionmedication adherence support. We achieved all these goals at a 2018 overhead rate of only 3.6%.
Unfortunately, AAB is in danger of closing due to the corona virus and other issues out of our control. If weare unable to have our September 20, 2020 benefit at the Clifton Mansion, the recently restored Italian stylemansion that was once the home of Johns Hopkins, we will probably need to close our doors. We also lostone of our prevention grants, and another grant was greatly decreased. Because our previous landlord of over15 years sold our former building, we were forced to move to another location where our rent is almosttwice as much as we paid for so many years.
We are trying to obtain funding from other sources, but the economic havoc that has been caused by thecoronavirus has taken its toll on every sector of our city, state and country. Philanthropic organizations arebeing called on to assist every sector of our society. So, we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.We urgently need your help to combat the perfect storm that has now engulfed us.
It is also an all important election year. We know that you are being called upon constantly to supportcandidates for many local and national offices as well as other worthy causes. Nevertheless, we hope youcan find it in your hearts and your budgets to help AAB make it through the pandemic too.
AAB has been working diligently on COVID-19 advocacy. We are using our many years of governmentresearch and policy expertise and connections in the fight against COVID-19. AAB is advocating directlyfor people with HIV (PWHIV) and COVID-19. I was able to persuade the HIV Medical Association(HIVMA) which is part of the Infectious Disease Society of America to create a document that addressescritical care interventions and other important medical considerations for PWHIV and COVID-19, so thatthey are not denied access to ventilators or other dwindling or rationed life-saving interventions just becausethey are HIV+. No other medical association has addressed this crucial issue. We are very grateful toHIVMA Board Chair Dr. Judith Feinberg, formerly of Johns Hopkins and HIVMA Immediate Past ChairDr. David Hardy, an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins, for creating this excellent document very expeditiously.
We are collaborating with the New York COVID-19 Working Group on a number of projects, including aletter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force (WHTF) which I was able to get directly to Dr. AnthonyFauci. I also wrote another letter to FDA Commissioner which I was also able to get directly toCommissioner Hahn with the help Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Office. The FDA letter addressed theabysmal state of COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing and was supported by many organizationsacross the country. (You can find the WHTF and FDA letters as well as the HIVMA COVID-19: SpecialConsiderations for People Living with HIV on the AAB website at www.aidactionbaltimore.org underCOVID-19 Advocacy on the left side of the page.
AAB will also be working with national organizations to make new COVID-19 drugs and vaccines quicklyavailable and accessible at a cost that will be affordable to all. We will be advocating with the NIH to assurethat clinical trials for people with COVID-19 are conducted ethically and expeditiously, and to ensure thatpeople with HIV are included in important clinical trials. Once drugs are approved we will continue toadvocate for the lowest prices possible so that everyone has access to new drugs. Advocating for these life-saving strategies has been our life’s work. Our expertise and long-standing contacts in these arenas areinvaluable.
We know that many of you are suffering too. Please be sure to contact us if you think our programs might beof assistance to you. When we get on our feet with your help, we intend to create a COVID-19 Fund to assistthose in the community that need emergency financial assistance, similar to our HIV Emergency Fund.
Our city and country need the expertise of AIDS activists now more than ever. As always, we will continueto work locally and nationally for people with HIV and now for people with COVID-19. With your help, wecan keep our doors open to face yet another pandemic that affects us all. But we can not do it without yourhelp. Please give as much as you can to help us keep our doors open at this critical time in our history.
Thank you in advance for your generous donation and your continued loyal support. Now more than ever,without people like you, there will be no more AIDS Action Baltimore.
AIDS Action Baltimore (AAB) has been providing essential services to people with HIV/AIDS since 1987. Thanks to your generosity,we’re still standing. We know only too well that times are still tough, but as we commemorate our 33rd year of service, we hope wecan count on your continued support which will help us maintain our many HIV/AIDS programs. We still desperately need your helpto keep our doors open and continue to provide our many essential services to the Baltimore HIV/AIDS community. We hope you willremember us and continue your loyal support. Please help us in any way you can. Your donations will enable us to continue ourmarvelous record of benevolence and compassion with only a rate of 3.6% overhead in 2018. The amount of work we accomplish andthe effect we have had on the war against HIV with only four full-time and one part-time employees is truly amazing!
Although HIV disease is becoming a chronic manageable disease, here is why we still need your help now more than ever:
In the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data reported in 2018, Maryland was ranked 6th among U.S. states and territories inadult/adolescent HIV diagnosis rates (per 100,000) in 2018, tied with Mississippi. At year-end 2017, CDC estimates that 1,003,782persons in the United States were living with diagnosed HIV infection. At the end of 2018, there were 31,559 people aged 13+ livingwith diagnosed HIV infection. It is estimated that 11.6% of people living with HIV in Maryland in 2017 were undiagnosed.
AAB has been instrumental again this year in the effort to reduce HIV infections in Baltimore. We currently administer two HIVprevention programs, one for transgender women and one for gay men. All our prevention programs provide outreach, preventioneducation, testing assistance, healthcare linkages and adherence support. Our PrEP UP program promotes PrEP (pre-exposureprophylaxis) use in interested gay men and transgender women. PrEP is a one pill once a day prevention regimen that has proven tobe 99% effective in reducing HIV transmission risk. So far, our PrEP efforts have been extremely successful. New Horizons, our stigmareducing, empowerment prevention program for black gay men has also been very effective. The CDC tells us that black gay men havea 1 in 2 chance of becoming HIV infected in their lifetimes. Our new program seeks to educate black gay men about this exorbitant riskand to help them build networks of support to combat the many social obstacles they encounter which contribute to their risk of becomingHIV infected. We are very excited about these new programs which have had excellent HIV prevention and treatment adherenceresults. We have developed even more community partnerships, including a collaboration with FreeState Justice. We recently workedsuccessfully with FreeState Justice taking the lead to help pass new legislation to allow minors to obtain HIV prevention drug accesswithout obtaining parental consent, and conducting outreach to trans women.
We have recently begun educating people about Treatment as Prevention (TasP), known as U = U (undetectable HIV = untransmittableHIV) as well as the latest in HIV treatment. We will continue to link people to care providers and help them to stay on their PrEP andHIV medications. We are very excited about our very successful bi- monthly support and education programs which have helped todecrease the number of people who become HIV infected and positive people who are unable to sexually transmit HIV because theirvirus is undetectable and thus untransmittable (U=U).
AAB still provides financial assistance to many needy people with HIV/AIDS. AAB has provided this support to over 8,500 people since1987 and $3,058,000 in assistance for items such as rent and utilities, and direct programs to people with HIV/AIDS and their familiesin our community. We firmly believe we must continue our invaluable financial assistance program which provides a safety net to peoplewith HIV/AIDS experiencing an emergency financial crisis.
Although the Trump Administration has promised but not yet distributed funding to End the HIV Epidemic, he has proposed a cut in other HIVspending while the rate of HIV cases in Baltimore is still raging. Because we never know what new budget cuts we will experience fromthe Trump Administration, we need your help more than ever so that we can continue the fight to save our community from thedevastation of HIV disease. AAB successfully advocated for increased NIH research funding this year and will continue to advocate forbudget increases to NIH research funding and continued funding for the Ryan White Care Act for the care and support of people withHIV. HIV policy gets more complicated every year, and it is much harder every year for us to obtain the money we need to fight theepidemic. We are working very closely with the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) on their End the HIV Epidemic Initiative. Wehad two Town Halls in conjunction with the BCHD in 2019, to discuss community strategies to end HIV transmission in Baltimore, onefeaturing the Director of the NIH Office of AIDS (OAR) Research Dr. Maureen Goodenow in 2019, to provide input on federal researchpriorities. Innovative events like this do not happen without AIDS Action Baltimore.
Our work affects all who are touched by HIV/AIDS. Eventually many people with HIV/AIDS will need new drug cocktails when theirold drugs are no longer working or because they are causing life-threatening side effects. AAB continues to work on many government and industry Community Advisory Boards (CABs). We are working with industry to continually change the standard of careby ensuring that their new drug pipelines remain robust, and by replacing more older toxic drugs with more effective, better tolerateddrugs and exciting new long acting drugs that will not require daily dosing.
We are very excited that scientists have begun to work on HIV “cure related”research. AAB is working with government and industryand the national HIV community to make a “cure” for HIV or what we are now calling “HIV remission” or “durable HIV suppression”a reality. Even though this will take years to come to fruition, we have to start somewhere. AAB is a member of the Martin DelaneyCure Research Collaboratories (DARE) and amfAR CABs. AAB is also working with DARE researchers to bring additional resourcesto Baltimore for local cure research projects. We held three HIV Cure Research Forums in 2019, and will hold three more in 2020.
AAB has been instrumental in the formation of the Drug Development Committee of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, a nationalorganization that interacts with the pharmaceutical industry, pressuring companies to study drugs expeditiously and ethically and toinclude the HIV affected community in all aspects of research and development. AAB is also a leading member of the national Fair PricingCoalition (FPC), pressuring“big pharma” to price HIV and HCV drugs reasonably, limit price increases, cap ongoing drug prices forgovernment programs like AIDS Drug Assistance Programs and to initiate co-pay programs for patients with private insurance. We haveconvinced every HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) drug company to create programs that will cover all the outrageously expensive co-paysand other out of pocket (OOP) costs for people with private insurance. Our work directly affects Marylanders with ever increasing OOPprescription costs. We are also working very hard to ensure that people in Maryland and across the country who cannot afford theirmedications get their drugs for free from “big pharma” through Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). Our work is way ahead of thecurve. This type of advocacy does not happen in any other disease community. These OOP co-pay programs are now in danger ofbeing discontinued by insurance providers. AAB is working in collaboration with numerous national organizations and the insuranceindustry to preserve co-pay programs.
We are still doing our best to help ourselves. Thanks to the many of you who attended our fabulous 2019 Tea at Cedarcroft event raised over $48,000. We will hopefully be having our 2020 Tea Dance on September 20, at the Clifton Mansion, the restored Italian style mansion which was the residence of Johns Hopkins . For more information on our events and the latest in HIV treatment and researchas well as PrEP for HIV prevention or financial assistance and prescription drug access program information, please see our web siteat www.aidsactionbaltimore.org and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/prep.up.7 and https://www.facebook.com/newhorizonsbmore/.
Please help us to continue our emergency financial assistance programs and our vital local and national research and treatmentadvocacy. We greatly appreciate your continued support in these tough economic times. Thank you in advance for your contributionand for your past generosity. We know you are called on to make many charitable donations. We very much appreciate your continuedconfidence in our work. Your donation will help us to save lives. We are forever grateful for your trust and loyal support. Remember,now more than ever, without people like you, there would be no AIDS Action Baltimore! We hope you and yours remain safe and well.
Sincerely, Lynda Dee & the AAB Board
Merle McCann, M.D., Chair
Jake Boone, III
Cameron Wolf, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Our current financial statement is available upon request by contacting AIDS Action Baltimore at 14 East Eager Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 or (410)837-2437. Documents and information submitted to the State of Maryland under the Maryland Charitable Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State, State House, Annapolis, MD 21401 for the cost of copying and postage.
COVID-19 and People Living with HIV
Frequently Asked Questions
Link to English FAQ: http://www.HIV-covid.org/
Link to Spanish FAQ: http://www.VIH-covid.org/