Hurricane Harvey slammed into southeast Texas on August 25 making landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane with winds of 130 mph near Rockport, Texas, dropping 40-52 inches of rainfall in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, and submerging Houston and other cities under water. Harvey triggered flash flooding in parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Texas HIV Medication Program (THMP), the state’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part B AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), has implemented measures to help facilitate continued access to daily HIV medication for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the state. The steps support both program participants living with HIV and all the agencies and workers who assist those with HIV in the community. The program has announced that local jurisdictions are able to use Emergency Financial Assistance to replace medications that have been lost, damaged, or need to be refilled. Additionally, the Texas State Board of Pharmacies has authorized pharmacies to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medications due to the emergency situation.
To access THMP assistance, visit their website at https://www.dshs.texas.gov/hivstd/meds/disaster.shtm or telephone (512) 533-3000.
Hurricane Irma, not to be outshone, hurtled through Florida beginning on September 9, after killing people in Cuba and absolutely devastating other islands in the Caribbean, cutting of power to millions of people and sending tens of thousands to shelters around the state.
The impact of these hurricanes has been acute in the LGBTQ and HIV communities. The Montrose Center, Houston’s LGBTQ center, reports that many of their clients are in need of some of the most basic necessities. The Center has compiled a handy list to guide the community in their giving. Donations should be delivered to The Montrose Center’s second floor reception area during our regular business hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you need assistance with moving items from your vehicle, the staff at the Center are happy to help!
One particularly glaring need is for donated HIV medications for those who lost their meds during the storm. Please contact the Montrose Center for details about donating your unused HIV medications.
Grammy Award-winning musician, singer, songwriter and record producer Jack Antonoff, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers and lead guitarist of the indie rock band Fun, is encouraging his fans to donate to The Montrose Center. Antonoff has pledged to match donations to the Center’s disaster relief fund up to $10,000 to help them reach their goal of $100K. “The LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund will be used to help individuals and families begin to rebuild their lives through counseling, case management, direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing and more,” reads the note on the Center’s site. “The Center’s dedicated case management team is on call to help homeless youth, seniors, people living with HIV, hate crime survivors, and those devastated by the storm.”
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS announced August 31 that it is awarding $155,000 in emergency grants to provide immediate, on-the-ground assistance to those battling the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. Donated on behalf of the Broadway community and all Broadway Cares supporters, the grants are going to seventeen social service organizations based in Houston and across Texas and the Gulf Coast. Also receiving a grant is The Actors Fund to support its emergency support efforts for hard-hit members of the entertainment industry in Texas and Louisiana.
Similarly, at the opening of the twenty-first annual United States Conference on AIDS in Washington D.C., Gilead Sciences announced a $1-million fund to help HIV organizations impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Delegates from the affected regions were on stage for the announcement. Grants from these funds are being coordinated by AIDS United in collaboration with NMAC as part of the rapid response arm of its new Southern HIV Impact Fund. NMAC will appoint an HIV Hurricane Relief Advisory Panel made up of local community leaders to identify local needs and priorities to support AIDS United grantmaking.
“Gilead’s generous contribution will make a tremendous difference for people living with HIV and for organizations serving them that were ravaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata. “We must make sure that we reach the organizations most in need as rapidly as possible.”
The Latino Commission on AIDS, the Hispanic Health Network and their staff, volunteers and partners call on the community at large to do as much as we can to help our sisters and brothers in need after the tragic events that have devastated Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, many regions of the United States and Mexico.
In moments of crisis, we don’t just ask for help, we do as much as we can for one another. We hope that along with us as individuals and organizations, the Federal government will bring relief and support during this long journey of reconstruction.
Please join the efforts many have begun to bring relief and comfort to those affected by hurricanes and earthquakes. We ask that relief organizations on the ground do their best to address two main concerns:
ensure decentralization of relief efforts and include rural areas; and
ensure access to medications for people dealing with chronic conditions as a top priority.
This is how you can help:
Donate to the Hispanic Federation “Ayuda a los Pueblos” fund at Hispanicfederation.org.
Join NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in his efforts to help bring much needed relief to Puerto Rico .
Donate to OXFAM Mexico to support those most affected by the devastation left by the most recent earthquakes.
For more information about The Montrose Center, log on to: www.montrosecenter.org/hub/; Broadway Cares: https://broadwaycares.org/broadway-cares-awards-emergency-grants-to-help-hurricane-harvey-survivors/; and AIDS United: www.aidsunited.org.
Reporting by Hank Trout