U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - The Common Patient Assistance Program Application (CPAPA), announced by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the International AIDS Conference in July, went into effect today. This single common application allows uninsured individuals living with HIV to use one application to apply for multiple assistance programs that together provide an entire course of antiretroviral therapy.

The application is a result of a public private partnership between HHS ‘ Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) and seven leading  pharmaceutical companies and foundations, and their HIV patient assistance programs: Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb , Gilead Sciences Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Merck and ViiV Healthcare. In addition, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors assisted in the development and implementation of the application.

“The last thing someone living with HIV wants to think about is filling out another form,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This application streamlines and simplifies the process, reduces barriers to medication access, and speeds access to lifesaving drugs.”

Patient Assistance Programs provide free or discounted medication to qualifying patients who cannot afford it themselves. These programs serve an estimated 30,000 or more patients a year across the country, and this initiative will aim to expand access to these programs.

The application is in response to suggestions by advocates and providers in the field to greatly simplify the process of applying to different programs. Prior to the development of the common application, individuals living with HIV or his/her provider had to fill out multiple sets of paperwork because they were taking complicated, multi-drug regimens that many times involve multiple companies with varying application forms.

This initiative aligns with the goals of the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy by increasing access to lifesaving drugs for eligible patients, and by helping more patients receive effective treatment for HIV.

The application can be found at http://hab.hrsa.gov/patientassistance/index.html.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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