Alabama Should Fully Fund State ADAP To Remove Patients From Waiting List, Editorial Says
Instead of "allowing" HIV-positive people in the state to advance to the later stages of the disease, Alabama should fully fund its AIDS Drug Assistance Program and remove patients from the state's waiting list, a Birmingham News editorial says. Alabama is the "only state in the country where financial aid for AIDS drugs has consistently run short of demand," according to documents released last week by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the editorial says (Birmingham News, 12/20). ADAPs are federal- and state-funded programs that provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. President Bush in June ordered the immediate release of $20 million to purchase AIDS-related drugs for states with ADAP waiting lists, but only the 10 states that had waiting lists at the time of the order -- Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia -- can apply for the funding. Alabama is one of 13 states since April 2003 that have implemented other ADAP cost-containment strategies, such as capped enrollment, medication-specific waiting lists, annual or monthly expenditure caps and cost sharing (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/16).
'Better State System Needed'
As of last week, 250 people were on Alabama's ADAP waiting list -- one that "none of us would choose to be on," according to the editorial. However, "[t]hat's not to say the state isn't doing anything," as 1,200 people receive medications under the program and the federal funding released in June is "helping an extra 250," the editorial says. Many people on the waiting list also receive assistance through other programs, including pharmaceutical company drug access plans, according to the Birmingham News. However, such programs are "imperfect, temporary solutions," and "[e]ven the federal assistance may not continue," according to the editorial. A "better state system is needed" for those living with HIV/AIDS and for the "state at large" because interruptions in treatment can "cause the virus to mutate and foster resistance to the limited AIDS drugs that are available," the editorial says, adding that medications become more expensive as the disease advances. "Trying to keep these Alabamians well makes sense from a human and an economic perspective," the Birmingham News concludes (Birmingham News, 12/20).