Nebraska: AIDS Medication Program Seeks Funds
January 28, 2003
Dr. Susan Swindells, director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's HIV clinic, is appealing to federal and state officials to increase public funding for medication for uninsured HIV/AIDS patients. Currently, the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program operates on a $17,000-a-month deficit.Adapted from:
Rising drug costs, a steady increase in new cases, and the fact that HIV patients are living longer on new regimens all contributed to the shortfall. The Nebraska assistance program receives about $1.1 million a year, 90 percent of which comes from the federal government. The program has a waiting list of 15 low-income people who are not receiving medication, most of whom have been recently diagnosed with HIV.
Swindells stressed that untreated patients will eventually require health care, likely paid out of public funds. "It ultimately is going to cost money," she said. "When they get sick, somebody is going to have to fix them." She noted that people not on medication are particularly at risk, because HIV spreads unchecked in their bodies and weakens their immune systems.
It would not be realistic, Swindells said, to ration AIDS drugs or to keep program patients on older, cheaper drugs. Because HIV becomes resistant to medication over time, older drugs are ineffective for patients who have already taken them.
In the past two decades, Nebraska has recorded 1,166 AIDS cases. Of those, 641 people have died. There were only four AIDS deaths in 2001, which is at least a seven-year low. Fewer AIDS deaths have been reported in the state each year since 1995, when the disease killed 47 people.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.