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National News

Hawaii: Officials Assure Stability of AIDS Plan

April 23, 2003

Hawaii HIV/AIDS patients who depend on state programs for services and medications are concerned that Gov. Linda Lingle's hiring freeze will leave their programs without staffing June 30. Three temporary positions in state Health Department programs are being converted to permanent civil service positions. However, Kathleen Watanabe, director of the state Human Resources Development Department, said the governor's freeze on vacancies will not affect the top positions in the program, and they would be extended if the conversion and recruitment process is not completed by June 30.

The three programs involved are:

  • Hawaii Seropositivity and Medical Management Program: provides testing and medical monitoring and facilitates treatment access for about 900 HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Hawaii COBRA Program: provides continuation of insurance premium payments for those who lose coverage after leaving work because of the disease. It serves about 50 people.
  • HIV Drug Assistance Program: provides medications for about 300 people who do not have medical insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid coverage.

A director, patient services coordinator, pharmacologist and two temporary clerks staff the programs for the Health Department's STD/AIDS Prevention Branch. The clerks, one federally funded and one state-funded, are not affected, said Peter Whiticar, STD/AIDS prevention chief. Conversion of the program director and patient services coordinator jobs was completed in December, and recruitment should be under way, Watanabe said. The pharmacologist position is also in the recruitment stage, she said.

"Whoever is in there now will stay throughout the competitive process," said Chiyome Fukino, Hawaii's health director. Fukino said that she is working with Watanabe to keep services going. Tom Sheeran, chair of Hawaii Cares, a statewide consortium for AIDS care services, said HDAP is most critical. "All these programs save money by getting people early treatment... which means keeping them out of the final stages of the disease, where hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in the last days of life."

Back to other CDC news for April 23, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Honolulu Star Bulletin
04.21.03; Helen Altonn


  
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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.
 
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