Georgia’s AIDS drug waiting list second longest

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imageAs of July, Georgia added 240 people to its waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The state now has the second longest waiting list in the country of people awaiting ADAP assistance.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors reports the numbers each month, and July saw a major spike in people needing the help. Nationwide, the number of individuals grew from 1,431 in 13 states in June to 2,359 in 13 states in July.

Georgia’s waiting list is now 60 percent larger than original projections, says Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality and a longtime AIDS activist.

The Georgia HIV Advocacy Network is working to make a difference.

“We are currently in the process of launching a SAVE ADAP postcard campaign,” Graham says. “We’re hoping to collect as many postcards as possible over the next six weeks and hand deliver them to our senators and various members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation when several of us will be in D.C. at the end of September.”

The NASTAD report also includes states that are taking drastic steps that could affect people with HIV even further. Some 27 states have implemented or are considering implementing cost containment measures. That includes more states creating waiting lists of their own, as well as plans in some states like reducing financial and medical eligibility, capping enrolment, reducing the number of specific approved drugs and cutting other AIDS services.

Georgia has no such plans thus far, and Graham, who led the state’s push to fund its program a decade ago, points to another pre-emptive step being taken in light of the latest crisis: to reconvene the Georgia ADAP Task Force. The collaborative group of providers, people with HIV and drug companies will look at ways to make medications available to more people, he says.

“The waiting list is for medications only,” he says. “No medical care or other critical supportive services such as case management, nutritional counseling, housing or mental health and substance abuse programs are affected.”

NASTAD uses the report to reiterate its call for more federal funding beyond the $25 million in reprogramming for ADAP announced last month by the Obama administration and approximately $17 million in Ryan White Part B Supplemental grants expected to be distributed in August to address ADAP.

With growing client demand for ADAP services …, minimal federal increases and continued cuts in state funding, it is paramount that emergency federal resources be made available to stave off the crisis many ADAPs and the clients they serve are facing. NASTAD and the HIV/AIDS community have been and will continue advocating for $126 million in additional FY2010 federal funding.

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