Georgia AIDS activists will hold a press conference and rally at the State Capitol on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, to bring awareness to the state's growing number of people being put on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list.

The activists also plan to deliver Gov.-elect Nathan Deal postcards asking to increase funding for ADAP to eliminate the waiting list for life-saving medications.

Currently, nearly 700 people are on the Georgia ADAP waiting list since it was started on July 1. It is estimated the waiting list will grow to some 1,300 people within the next several months. The program is now serving approximately 5,500 people in Georgia, according to the campaign.

Press conference, rally planned to address Georgia’s AIDS drug waiting list

ADAP is funded by state and federal funds and “provides access to over 60 life-saving HIV-related medications for low and moderate-income individuals who lack private insurance and who do not qualify for Medicaid,” according to a press release from the Save Georgia ADAP campaign.

Just one month after the ADAP waiting list was implemented in Georgia, the state became second in the nation for those on the waiting list.

The state had an ADAP waiting list from 1997-2002 and at its peak, 1,600 low-income people were waiting to see if they could get the life-saving drugs they needed.

“That was when the state had no funding,” said Jeff Graham, an Atlanta AIDS activist for some 20 years and now executive director of Georgia Equality. “Over that time we were all working with many organizations to get that funding up to eliminate the waiting list.”

Gay and bisexual men and transgender individuals are at highest risk for contracting HIV in Georgia, Graham added.

The waiting list was eventually eliminated when needed funding came through and Graham said he had hoped Georgia would never be in the same situation.

“It shocks me we do have a list again and how fast the numbers have grown and there is not the same sense of urgency,” Graham said. “I really had hoped to not see another waiting list.”

Recently, Florida eliminated 350 people from its ADAP waiting list and is threatening to drop more because of a budget downfall. Florida continues to rank No. 1 in people on an ADAP waiting list.

Supporting the press conference and rally and the Save Georgia ADAP Campaign include: AID Atlanta, AID Gwinnett, AIDS Athens, Community Advance Practice Nurses, Georgia Equality, Georgia HIV Advocacy Network, Grady Infectious Disease Program, SisterLove, Someone Cares and Metro Atlanta HIV Health Services Planning Council.

The press conference will be from 1-2 p.m. at the Georgia State Capitol inside the north wing of the building.