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A recent observation by the Washington Post describes states cutting back on their efforts to provide medicines to patients with HIV.
Around “8,300 people are on waiting lists in 13 states to get antiretroviral and other drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS or the side effects, mental health conditions or opportunistic infections”. Many of these states have changed their eligibility programs by eliminating waiting lists or simply not have a waiting list. Some are also known to have dis-enrolled their patients according to Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, an advocacy group on gay issues; whose state currently holds 1,520 patients the second highest number on a waiting list.
A program known as the AIDS drug assistance (ADAPs) pays for HIV medication for low-income patients when they can’t afford the drugs. According to the National Alliance of State and Territorial Aids Directors, these programs cover around 174,000 people. Recently, however, the number of people has been rising after the recession because of unemployment and no insurance coverage. The state, by cutting back to provide drugs, has given these patients no direction. Since the ADAP program is not an entitlement program, it can turn away applicants and put them on a waiting list if the funding is not available.
Many people who do not get into the ADAP programs try getting into other programs that offer drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies. These programs, however, require patients to reapply, and are completely dependent on what donations they receive.
According to the Washington Post, “Florida… has 3,938 people on the ADAP waiting list, the highest number in the country… the state ran out of ADAP money and turned to Welvista, a South Carolina-based non profit pharmaceutical assistance program that is providing medication to HIV patients on ADAP waiting lists in several states”. The company has provided medication to more than half of the people in the Florida ADAP program.
Advocacy groups describe how those with HIV on antiretroviral drugs are able to handle the disease, allowing them to work and keep the costs down for the state.
A research mentioned how people who are immediately put on medication after being diagnosed are less likely to prevent the spread of the disease.
Thomas Decker, a 58-year-old HIV patient in Arlington, who was laid off from his job in September 2009. He bought his insurance through the COBRA program, but then they ran out so he turned to ADAP. Thomas Decker in The Washington Post describes how “It’s such a shock when you have insurance and you pay into everything for so many years and then you are just sort of left out into the open — people really don’t get it.” Decker was kicked out of his state’s ADAP program in January when his health was improving by an increase in his T-cell count. “I was kicked off the program basically because of my health. I always kept my health up,” he said.
Thomas Decker’s story is one of many who have been kicked out of their programs or have not been covered in any way. An economic growth will help facilitate many of these small but important problems the country is constantly facing.