The terrible economy has been especially hard on the ADAP system, the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program that provides life saving medications to the HIV-positive. More people are now on ADAP waiting lists that at any time since the program began.
Eleven states have closed enrollment in the federal program, most recently Florida, which has the nation’s third-largest population of people with H.I.V. Three other states have narrowed eligibility, and two of them — Arkansas and Utah — have dropped scores of people from the program. Last week, because of swelling numbers here in South Florida, the nationwide waiting list surged past record levels set in 2004, to 1,781 people, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. The growth is expected to continue when Georgia starts deferring enrollment in its drug assistance program on July 1. Illinois may soon follow, and New Jersey plans to cut eligibility on Aug. 1, removing 600 of the 7,700 people on its rolls. Louisiana capped enrollment on June 1 but decided against keeping a waiting list. “It implies you’re actually waiting on something,” said DeAnn Gruber, the interim director of the state’s H.I.V./AIDS program. “We don’t want to give anyone false hope.”
In addition to the waiting lists, some states are cutting out drugs that don’t directly fight HIV, but treat the many conditions related to the infection. The irony, of course, is that the government will end up paying much more to treat people for opportunistic infections because they don’t have access to their meds.