We’re not the gayest or the most lesbianish, but Georgia does lead the nation with its 1,320-person waiting list for low-income people who need HIV medication, a vexing problem that would take nearly $15 million to address.
The waiting list for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program added 43 people since early January, keeping Georgia’s list as the largest in the U.S. and ahead of Florida (1,204) and Virginia (1,103), according to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, which tracks the numbers through its ADAP Watch. Some 4,774 people in 12 states are on ADAP waiting lists.
That comes as Georgia Equality has made “full funding” for the state’s ADAP program one of its two legislative priorities for the current Georgia General Assembly session. It’ll be an uphill battle: Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s executive director, says that Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget proposal offers no additional funding for ADAP.
Some $14.56 million is needed to eliminate the state’s ADAP waiting list, according to the state Department of Public Health, though that amount may drop as health officials work to move people on the waiting list to a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
The department has also pledged to remove 200 people from the list by the end of February, according to Georgia Health News. The list has dropped by 412 people since federal health official injected $3 million into the program in October.
State health officials also stress that although Georgia leads the nation with its ADAP waiting list, some people on the list still receive HIV medication through other assistance programs.
Georgia’s maintenance of an ADAP waiting list allows DPH to ensure that those in need receive medications either through ADAP or the pharmaceutical company assistance programs. And the waiting list is vital in the department’s requests for supplemental federal funding. Most importantly, without an accurate and timely accounting, we would not be able to measure and respond to need in Georgia.
It is imperative to understand that even those persons on the ADAP wait list are receiving medications through the drug company assistance programs.