April 30 is America’s first PrepareAthon!, a national day of action for individuals, organizations, and communities to become better prepared to withstand disasters. The PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for people living with HIV as well as the agencies that serve them to be sure they are well prepared for the emergencies or disasters most likely to affect their communities.
Sadly, most Americans are unprepared for disasters. In a 2012 Federal Emergency Management Agency national survey, only 39 percent of people reported having a household emergency plan, which included instructions for household members on where to go and what to do in an emergency.
“Emergency planning is essential for all Americans, but especially for people living with chronic diseases, like HIV, observes Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases. “That’s because natural disasters or other emergencies may make it harder for people with HIV to take their HIV medications, or have access to regular health care providers or their pharmacy. To avoid interruptions in HIV treatment people living with HIV should always have a 10–14 day supply of all their medications on hand so they can take that supply with them should it become necessary to relocate for safety reasons.”
Also, natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and wildfires may affect air and water quality, which can compromise the health of people living with HIV because of their weakened immune systems. To learn more, visit our HIV Basics page on Emergency Preparedness for People Living with HIV.
Read a statement from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response about America’s first PrepareAthon! National Day of Action.