Georgia Receives $3 Million for AIDS Drug Assistance Program
Georgia’s Department of Public Health has received $3 million from the Centers for Disease Control for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program to assist those living with HIV and AIDS.
The grant will allow the state to move roughly 277 Georgians off the waiting list of those who need HIV/AIDS medications. There are 1,700 people with HIV/AIDS currently on the list.
"AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are a payer of last resort for these drugs, so we must do everything possible to ensure that the programs have the resources to meet the needs of those who have no other avenue to receive them," said Daniel C. Montoya, deputy executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program serves more than 175,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the United States. More than 6,000 Georgia residents are enrolled in the program.
"This, however, is not necessarily an accurate representation of the true need for assistance," explained Montoya. "Various states have reduced their eligibility requirements in order to reduce costs and avoid the appearance of a wait list. As a result, there is no way of tracking how many people cannot afford their medications but are no longer eligible for government assistance."
According to Montoya’s records, Georgia has the second longest wait list in the nation, behind Florida. He said this reporting may not be totally accurate because some states have reduced eligibility requirements in order to contain costs and avoid the appearance of long wait lists.
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta reports that more than one million people in the United States alone live with HIV, while more than 400,000 live with AIDS. More than 525,000 Americans have lost their lives due to AIDS-related illnesses, while one in four people with HIV have not been diagnosed and remain unaware of their status. And approximately 40,000 Americans test positive each year.
Worldwide, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS estimates 65 million people live with the virus. And 25 million people have died from AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses.
Nine of Georgia’s 17 public health districts have AIDS rates higher than the national average.
HIV/AIDS service providers stress the $3 million grant is not a permanent solution to the state’s ADAP funding woes. Rather, they describe it as a one-time allotment of emergency funds.
"A long term solution would require states with low proportional investment to step up and increase their contributions to this program, which is critical to their citizens’ health," said Montoya.