HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group Calls for Emergency ADAP Funds To End Waiting Lists in South Carolina
The deaths of three HIV-positive people on the waiting list of South Carolina's AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- a federal- and state-funded program that provides HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals -- highlights the need for an emergency increase in federal funds for the program, the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Title II Community AIDS National Network said recently, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 11/7). According to TII CANN, there are more than 200 South Carolina residents on the state's ADAP waiting list. About 1,800 HIV-positive people are enrolled in South Carolina's ADAP. Sixty-seven percent of the clients are black, and 85% have incomes lower than 200% of the federal poverty level, which is about $19,000 annually, according to TII CANN. The state's waiting list is the longest in the country. Carmen Julious, director of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, said South Carolina's ADAP would need $3 million to move everyone from the waiting list by June 2007 and an additional $8 million by 2008 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/7). South Carolina's ADAP waiting list is increasing by eight to 12 people weekly, according to Lynda Kettinger, director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control's division on sexually transmitted infections and HIV. TII CANN CEO Bill Arnold said another AIDS-related death is expected within the next few days.
According to Arnold, South Carolina's waiting list is a reflection of insufficient state and federal funding levels. Congress has not approved fiscal year 2007 spending levels for ADAPs, and it is likely that when it does, spending levels will not increase, according to CQ HealthBeat (CQ HealthBeat, 11/7). Congress in September adjourned without the Senate passing a House-approved bill (HR 6143) that would reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act -- which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs, including ADAPs, in the U.S. (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/2). Arnold said TII CANN is optimistic that Congress will consider an emergency spending bill to increase federal funding for ADAPs above current levels either by the end of this year or early next year. He added that if Congress or the South Carolina Legislature fail to enact emergency spending measures, the state's waiting list could increase to 350 people by the end of December. Kettinger said that the STI/HIV division in South Carolina's health department has prepared a $5 million budget request that would benefit current enrollees and end the waiting list. She added that the request will not be considered by the state Legislature until next year (CQ HealthBeat, 11/7). The office of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) said it would not make budget recommendations until January 2007 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/7).