Thursday, July 01, 2010

ADAP Funding In Jeopardy, Waiting List Soars

"The weak economy is crippling the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to people with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them. Nearly 1,800 have been relegated to rapidly expanding waiting lists that less than three years ago had dwindled to zero.

Eleven states have closed enrollment in the federal program, most recently Florida>, which has the nation’s third-largest population of people with H.I.V. Three other states have narrowed eligibility, and two of them — Arkansas and Utah — have dropped scores of people from the program.

Last week, because of swelling numbers here in South Florida, the nationwide waiting list surged past record levels set in 2004, to 1,781 people, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. The growth is expected to continue when Georgia starts deferring enrollment in its drug assistance program on July 1. Illinois may soon follow, and New Jersey plans to cut eligibility on Aug. 1, removing 600 of the 7,700 people on its rolls.

Louisiana capped enrollment on June 1 but decided against keeping a waiting list. “It implies you’re actually waiting on something,” said DeAnn Gruber, the interim director of the state’s H.I.V./AIDS program. “We don’t want to give anyone false hope.”

Ten states’ programs have stopped covering drugs that do not directly combat H.I.V. or opportunistic infections. Unless money is found by Aug. 1, Florida plans to pare 53 of 101 medications from its formulary, including those for conditions that are often related to H.I.V., like diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety."
via The New York Times

Here's a sampling of 138 comments posted about this article:

Point blank, I don't care what a person did: no one deserves a death sentence because they had unsafe sex, too much sex, gay sex, anal sex, adulterous sex, sex on the down low, etc. etc. etc. And refusing to give AIDS medications is a death sentence, make no mistake about it.


As a gay man that came out of the closet at 18 years old in 1993, I was terrified of HIV and vowed to protect myself from contracting it. Back then, gay men in particular were dropping like flies! For guys my age (straight ones too), there was never a time where sex was tantamount to freedom and liberation with zero consequences like in the 1970s. Sex could KILL you. We had that message drummed into our heads ad infinitum. However, in the last decade or so, the safe sex massages have dissipated, and people have resumed their old ways. Society can't protect people from catching an illness that no longer scares them. Why should society promise to fund the health care of people who took risks, knowing the consequences, but preferred living dangerously? And the one thing you almost never hear HIV+ people own up to is that possibility that he/she might have passed it on to someone else. HIV is entirely preventable, with very few exceptions. The only thing that can stop its death march is each individual protecting himself or herself. All the funding in the world is, for the most part, misspent.


Even if HIV is transmitted because of behavioral choices... so what? "Behavioral choices" are bad decisions, moments of weakness, made in ignorance, made drunkenly (and it's not exactly illegal to drink), made when people are lied to about a partner's status, made irrationally because of addiction, made from places of desperation.

It doesn't matter to me why or when a bad decision was made. We all make them at one time or another. Why do people's whose decisions lead to HIV deserve to die, when the rest of us get to scrape by thinking "God, I'll never do *that* again..."? Providing health care is the empathetic, kind thing go do.

Additionally, people on medication are less likely to transmit the virus (fewer cases in the future!) and are less likely to be hospitalized and require *even more* expensive treatment.

We're talking about something where the kind response is also the cheaper response and a way to prevent future problems. I'm not seeing a downside on my tax money going to help here.

Full disclosure: ADAP is the program that has been keeping yours truly alive and well these past 7 years. Just so you know.

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