June 2, 2010
On Friday, the Palm Beach County health planning council came up with a plan to provide $150,000 in stop-gap funding to treat some residents with HIV/AIDS in the short term.
On June 1 for the first time in 13 years, Florida capped the enrollment of new clients in the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program. High unemployment has led to record numbers of residents seeking ADAP's help, said Tom Liberti, chief of the state HIV/AIDS program. Without a cap, Florida's ADAP would be depleted rapidly, he said.
Council members said the extra funds recently scavenged could help new patients needing treatment locally. However, $150,000 would only be enough to cover 84 people expected to seek help between now and mid-September. Palm Beach County officials estimate an additional 252 people will seek support through March 30, the start of the new federal funding cycle.
Unless Congress passes an emergency bill to add $126 million into ADAP nationwide, people will eventually be denied treatment, the council said.
To come up with the funds for treatment, the council cancelled a peer mentoring program. It also hopes to receive $30,000 to $126,000 in federal dollars. The health department may be able to provide up to $15,000, and local AIDS groups will be asked to search their budgets for any additional money.
The redirected funds will go toward clear-cut priorities, said Sonja Swanson-Holbrook, head of the county's AIDS programs. "We will serve the sickest people first," she said.