Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Thousands on HIV drugs desperate amid budget woes"

[PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Cash-strapped states are cutting back on a program that provides free medicine to people with HIV, leaving thousands of patients to wonder where their drugs will come from and stirring fears of a return to the days when an AIDS diagnosis meant certain death.

At least 19 states have taken such steps as capping enrollment, dropping patients, instituting waiting lists, lowering the income ceiling for eligibility, and no longer covering certain drugs or tests.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program is funded by the federal and state governments and run by the states. It provides free drugs in all 50 states and U.S. territories. But because people are living longer with HIV and the recession has created more demand for the program, states have been unable to keep up...

In nine states, more than 4,500 people with HIV are on ADAP waiting lists or can't get into the program because enrollment is capped, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

More than 300 people who had coverage were dropped this year, after five states lowered their income eligibility limits to as little as $21,000 per year. Hundreds more face the same fate by February if more states follow through on plans to cut their eligibility, the alliance said.]

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