August 2, 2012
A $3.4 million grant from the federal government will help Alabama move 122 people off the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and into treatment. "It will allow us to keep people on medication and off the waiting list until March 30, 2013," said Jane Cheeks, state AIDS director at the Department of Public Health. Just over $1 million of the money will go to an insurance program for Medicare Part D, which will benefit 85-90 patients. The subsidized Medicare prescription drug plan for qualified individuals helps keep them off the waiting list, Cheeks said. The rest of the money will go toward eliminating the ADAP waiting list. The length of time the wait will be eliminated is "definitely longer than I thought," said Kathie Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama. She noted, however, that with 900 new HIV infections in the state annually, the need eventually will outpace this latest funding. Cheeks said people have been waiting on help from the program for two years, even with a cap on the number of people permitted into it. "Now we'll have no cap and no waiting list," she said.