Arkansas: Funding Cuts Limit Access to HIV, AIDS Treatments
October 23, 2009
Funding cuts are forcing Arkansas officials to curtail some services and medications for residents with HIV/AIDS.
An estimated 5,097 Arkansans had HIV or AIDS as of Dec. 31, 2008, some of whom receive help through the Ryan White program. As of Aug. 13, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program had a 54 percent increase in clients enrolled this year compared with fiscal 2008 -- from 433 to 677 patients.
"We tell our patients: 'Don't miss a single dose [of HIV medication],'" said Dr. Nate Smith, medical director for the Arkansas Department of Health's HIV/STD program. Interrupted treatment can lead to viral resistance to the drugs, and subsequent treatment may require more expensive medications.
In recent years, Arkansas has set the income cap for the program at 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $54,150 annually for a one-person household. But the program is facing increased demand in response to job layoffs and lost insurance coverage, Smith said.
To cope with funding cutbacks and growing demand for services, Arkansas officials are applying for alternative sources of federal funding. One requirement for such funding, in addition to establishing the waiting list, is reducing the program's income threshold from 500 percent to 200 percent of the poverty level. The state is also curtailing outreach, limiting dental care to emergencies, cutting the plan's formulary, and increasing the prior authorization needed for a dozen medications.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
10.19.2009; Tracie Dungan
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.