January 4, 2012
In the last six months, 2,682 low-income HIV-positive Louisiana residents have received help accessing their medications through the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Thanks in part to an infusion of $3 million in federal funds, the state has moved 936 people from the waiting list into ADAP during the past 16 months. However, as of Dec. 21, 596 state residents were still waiting for ADAP's help, according to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
"It's a really big problem," said Tim Young, executive director of the Baton Rouge-based HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two. Indeed, according to NASTAD, only three other states -- Florida, Virginia, and Georgia -- have longer ADAP waiting lists than Louisiana.
DeAnn Gruber, administrative director of the Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV Program, said the state created its ADAP waiting list in June 2010, when it became clear there was not enough money to care for current clients and enroll new ones. At one time, more than 2,000 people were waiting for help.
Gruber said many people on the list get help from pharmaceutical companies' charity programs, though she acknowledged this is not a long-term solution. Young believes, however, that "some go without."
Gruber said she hopes the state will be able to move more patients from the waiting list into ADAP in the new year.