Alabama HIV Commission Requests Increased Funding for State ADAP for FY 2005
The Alabama Governor's HIV Commission for Children, Youth and Adults on Thursday announced at the release of its annual report that it will request $5 million from the Legislature for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program for fiscal year 2005, the AP/Tuscaloosa News reports. Between FY 2003 and FY 2004, the Legislature cut Alabama's ADAP funding from $2.9 million to $1.76 million, according to the AP/News (Jafari, AP/Tuscaloosa News, 3/18). ADAPs -- which are supported with both state and federal funds -- provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. According to an "ADAP Watch" released by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors in January, 15 states -- including Alabama -- have waiting lists or access restrictions for their ADAP programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/17). Currently there are 1,342 HIV-positive individuals enrolled in Alabama's ADAP, with an additional 30 to 40 new patients per month added to a waiting list, which is the longest in the nation, the AP/News reports. The commission predicts that Alabama's waiting list will include more than 500 people living with HIV by the next fiscal year, according to the AP/News.
State Rep. Laura Hall (D), who chairs the commission, said that another year of funding cuts for the state's program could "jeopardize federal funding, and ultimately eliminate ADAP," the AP/News reports. She added, "This is simply unacceptable. We all understand the budget constraints [the Legislature] face[s]. But for those who live with AIDS, this is a quality of life issue. It means life or death." AIDS Alabama CEO Kathie Hiers, who is a member of the commission, said, "We're not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. We barely made it last year." Hall said that it appears "unlikely" that the state ADAP will receive $5 million during a statewide budget "crunch," according to the AP/News. She added that the program could "still get by" if funding was restored to the FY 2003 level, which would represent an increase over the current fiscal year's funding for the program, the AP/News reports.
Black Caucus Involvement
Hall said that she hopes the fact that both the commission and the state's legislative Black Caucus have made securing more funds for the state ADAP a "priority" will help garner support for funding from other lawmakers, according to the AP/News. Of the 12,000 HIV-positive Alabamans, 70% are black, but blacks comprise only about 25% of the state's population, the AP/News reports. In addition, the commission says that most of the people on the state ADAP waiting list are minorities, the AP/News reports (AP/Tuscaloosa News, 3/18).