By Clinton Centry
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
An extra bill is just what most people do not need these days. With snowballing financial obligations, some people may feel like there is no solution to it all. Just imagine what it is like for a person living with HIV or AIDS who has no health coverage but needs to cover the price of medication to combat the illness. The AASC, Alliance of AIDS Services Carolina, a nonprofit organization located in NECD, assists such individuals with occasional rent payments, utilities payments and prescription co-pays.
HIV/AIDS medications can range anywhere from $263 to $1117 per prescription each month for people without insurance while people with insurance typically have co-pays of $15-$30 a month.
The Alliance, located at the corner of N. Hyde Park Avenue and Main Street, will make arrangements with an individual’s rental property management or utility providers, such as Duke Energy, to have these bills paid to free up spendable income to get medications.
“The AASC embraces everybody regardless of culture though some individuals may be undocumented and not qualify for such government assistance,” says Carmencita Archila, clinic receptionist at Durham County Health Department.
Funds are not given directly to the individual. Recipients of Alliance services need not prove any financial need except a past due bill or late rent notice.
People with health coverage may still find it difficult to maintain a household or utilities because of costly co-pays. The Alliance can help them save the money they may need for gas or groceries by offering free disbursement of their medication or full coverage of their co-pays.
“The Alliance is federally and stated funded,” says Sebastian Battle, patient advocator at Durham County Health Department. “It is delegated to disburse funds within nine counties in central eastern North Carolina.”
Sometimes AASC may not be there for individuals in their times of need since funds are depleted at times.
“We have had to turn people away,” says Alicia Andrews, prevention case management coordinator. “They begin to abuse the services and come here every month. If they are behind on their rent and it gets paid, we expect them to utilize their remaining income for medications.”
The Alliance can only disperse what it has been given by the state. So, in order to keep the funds circulating within the organization, the staff has come up with unique ways to raise money specifically for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The Aids Walk and Ride is a fundraising event in which AASC employees, various churches, and corporate entities such as Duke, come together in downtown Raleigh to walk or bike to raise money.
Works of Heart is a showcase of local artists and their pieces whose works are auctioned to raise money. The event is held at the Progress Energy Center in downtown Raleigh.
An Evening with Friends gathers Alliance employees or citizens affiliated with the organization, to personally raise money through hosting parties or cooking dinners.
They also host Drag Bingo every month at the Durham Armory incorporating themes such as favorite “superhero” or “tv mom.” Community members and recipients of AASC services dress up to show their support while others play Bingo.