#PhRMA12 Conversations: Frank J. Oldham, Jr. - National Association of People With AIDS

#PhRMA12 Conversations: Frank J. Oldham, Jr. - National Association of People With AIDS

04.10.12 | By Christian Clymer

In my ongoing conversations about the upcoming PhRMA Annual Meeting, I was very fortunate to spend a few moments with Frank Oldham, the President and CEO of NAPWA. Frank is the model of a patient advocate. He has lived the struggles of the people he represents and is now using his voice and experience to fight for everyone living with HIV/AIDS. "We want people living with HIV to have the best possible care and treatment services as well as the best quality of life they can have," he says. NAPWA represents 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Frank has seen the benefit of medical innovation first hand: "The pharmaceutical industry is an amazing partner for people living with HIV/AIDS. They have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the community. It's a miracle. It's a paramount of success. 600,000 people have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. If we'd had these medicines that we have now, so many of those people would be alive today."

I asked him where he thought the science of HIV/AIDS medicine was today. "I think we are at the beginning," he answered. "It's the beginning of a magical solution. We have the tools now to end the AIDS epidemic in America, however we need even more advanced medicines. For example, there is a combination therapy that is now one pill a day. So, rather than taking 16 pills per day, you can take one pill a day and live a healthy, successful, productive life."

Like others who have taken part in previous conversations here on The Catalyst, Frank is a big believer in partnerships, participating with several PhRMA member companies on advisory boards to help them chart a path forward to help ensure a future for new medical breakthroughs for patients with HIV/AIDS.

When we looked forward to the annual meeting, he said, "I would like to leave the annual meeting having had a discussion about how we, as patients, can join with industry to help resolve the issue of health care in the United States." That's exactly what we are hoping, too.

My favorite moment of our interview was when Frank told me about an upcoming NAPWA conference: "Our organization has had a conference called 'Staying Alive' for many, many years. Because of the new medications and treatments, we've changed the name of the conference. Instead of 'Staying Alive,' meaning just surviving, we now call it the 'National Healthy Living Summit.' It's all now about adherence, new medications, how to work with your provider in partnership. How do you find out what the best treatment regimen is for you? So, all of this is about being healthy." The National Healthy Living Summit is going on this week in Dallas.

How have you seen medical innovation impact your loved ones?

Follow Christian on Twitter @CCAtPhRMA.

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