AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today thanked Representatives Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, and Frederica Wilson, four Members of Congress from Florida, for their efforts to secure additional emergency funding for the nation’s hard-hit AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide. Congress recently approved $48 million in emergency funding for ADAP, which currently has over 8,500 people in nine states on waiting lists unable to access this lifesaving program. More than 3,900 of these individuals are on the waiting list in Florida, which will receive $6.9 million of the $48 million in emergency ADAP funding, and will shortly move 1,500 people off its wait list and on to lifesaving AIDS treatment through the program.
“We applaud the efforts of Representatives Hastings, Wasserman Schultz, Deutch and Wilson in helping to secure this emergency funding for ADAPs nationwide, and in particular, for Florida’s hard-hit program. Their efforts will not only save lives, but also should serve as a call to action for all of Florida’s leaders to respond to this devastating crisis,” said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Ensuring access to treatment through ADAP is the key to our successful fight against HIV/AIDS. Treatment not only keeps people with HIV/AIDS healthy, it can reduce new infections by up to 96%. It is unacceptable that 3,900 people in Florida, and over 8,500 people nationwide, have been languishing on waiting lists unable to access this lifesaving program.”
“The funds these four legislators fought for will enable Florida and other states to start removing people from the waiting lists; however, it is simply not enough to end this crisis,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The Obama administration and Congress need to do more to ensure access to treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Failure to do so will put lives at risk, lead to thousands of new HIV infections, and ultimately, cost even more money. Ultimately, it will take all of Florida’s congressional delegation to pressure the administration and Congress to act. The leadership of these Members of Congress, along with that of Senator Rubio, has given hope to the thousands of Floridians still awaiting treatment. AHF now calls on all of Florida’s leaders to join this fight.”
According to ADAP Watch, a list published by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), as of September 29th, 8,512 low-income AIDS patients in nine states have been placed on waiting lists to access lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications through the nation’s network of ADAPs. Several states have also recently capped further enrollment in their ADAPs or are sharply reducing eligibility for their programs based on a percentage of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) income (in some cases cutting the FPL-eligible income from 400% to 200%), effectively denying needy patients access to medications.
In 2008, the year President Obama was elected, there were fewer than 100 patients on ADAP waiting lists.
With AIDS medications priced at a minimum of $10,000 per patient per year, it is estimated that it would cost over $85 million—$37 million more than the $48 million Congress just approved—to clear the current waiting lists for one year alone.
ADAP is a federal/state funded, state run network of programs that supply lifesaving AIDS drugs to low-income Americans in need. Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Approximately 80% of those on ADAP waiting lists reside in the South. The crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color.