Thanks to the 5.3 percent across-the-board cut to most non-defense discretionary federal programs known as the "sequester," as many as 15,000 Americans will lose access to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), according to a recent report released by amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.
The sequester is the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was initially aimed at reducing the federal deficit. After a bipartisan deficit reduction committee failed to propose a plan to reduce the deficit by the March 1 deadline, automatic budget cuts were imposed to the tune of $1.2 trillion.
Particularly hard hit are HIV/AIDS advocacy, research and prevention efforts, which are set to lose out on millions in funding over the next decade if the sequester holds, according to amFAR.
HIV/AIDS advocates are taking to Twitter today to call on President Obama to end the waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).
According to Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT rights advocacy organization, Georgia has some 1,700 low-income people on the state's waiting list to receive life-saving medications. The Georgia Department of Public Health says that ADAP must be the last resort for individuals with HIV/AIDS, meaning to qualify for funds, a patient must not have health insurance or receive other state or federal health benefits that could pay for treatment.
Tweeters are asked to submit specially tagged messages to the official Twitter account for the White House, on the hour, every hour today.
Georgia’s HIV Unit hopes to eliminate the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program’s waiting list if it can receive a $3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention this fall.
Some 1,718 Georgians were on the waiting list for ADAP as of Aug. 4, according to the ADAP Advocacy Association. The program helps people who are uninsured or underinsured pay for life-saving HIV medications.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, state commissioner of the Department of Public Health, which oversees the HIV Unit, is quick to point out that the list is not a “death sentence,” as 99 percent of people on the list are receiving needed medication through assistance from pharmaceutical companies.
Several HIV care providers are warning of a looming crisis for some of their poorest patients if more money cannot be found for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program this year.
Georgia’s wait list for the program now includes more than 1,000 people and represents a public health crisis, supporters of ADAP said at a press conference March 1 at the Grady Infection Disease Program office in Atlanta.
ADAP provides access to up to 60 different medications used to treat HIV, AIDS and related infections for 4,300 people in Georgia. Funded through a mix of federal and state money, the program’s $44.8 million budget is approximately $15 million short of what it needs to deal with increasing demand.
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.