State AIDS Programs Struggle As Joblessness Increases Demand

NPR: Growing joblessness and shrinking state and federal budgets have exacerbated the financial burden on the government that provides prescription drug treatment to people with HIV/AIDS. "Now, many people with HIV are losing jobs, along with insurance, or discovering that they are infected at a time when the AIDS Drug Assistance Program — ADAP — they depend on is being overwhelmed by demands being made on it. Federal and state budgets aren't meeting the challenge." As of July 1, Georgia had to begin adding new applicants to its AIDS drug program to a waitlist. Last month, Florida did the same, and now carries more than 500 people on its waitlist. A Florida official said, "Over the last several months in the latter part of this recession, we have been averaging over 350 patients a month coming forward for assistance" (Wilson, 7/7).

Bay Area Reporter, a San Francisco weekly: "Officially, 1,924 people are now on ADAP waiting lists in 11 states, federal ADAP administrator Deborah Parham Hopson told the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS at its June 29 meeting. That is about 1 percent of the people served by the program. Three years ago there were no ADAP waiting lists." But, other HIV/AIDS patients are also no longer getting help they once received. According to the Bay Area Reporter, Ohio lowered income eligibility last month and stopped paying for medication for 320 people.  Louisiana stopped enrolling new ADAP beneficiaries in June, but created no waiting list. And, other states have curbed benefits by reducing the number or type of drugs covered, or tightened income and employment requirements to make ends meet (Roehr, 7/8).

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