Pic via dbmathews.com

The Florida Department of Health announced Thursday that its AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list has dropped to a little more than 800 individuals.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, a nationwide payer of last resort for people who cannot afford their HIV/AIDS medications, has been in a funding crisis since 2010, which prompted many states, including Florida, to implement cost-containment measures such as waiting lists.

A Health Department press release issued Thursday indicates that “currently, there are 806 people on the ADAP waiting list, which is an 81 percent decrease in the waiting list since September 1, 2011, when the number was 4,184.”

Florida’s ADAP waiting list, with more than 3,200 people by mid-November, was one of several cost-containment measures used by the Department of Health to deal with the ongoing ADAP funding crisis.

The AIDS Institute hosted a Florida Bureau of HIV/AIDS Patient Care Webinar Friday to address several issues, including changes to ADAP.

Tom Liberti, chief of the state’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS, explained during the webinar that Ryan White federal funds that added up to almost $9 million dollars and $6.9 million in federal emergency relief funds allowed the Bureau to reduce the state’s ADAP waiting list.

Liberti warned that the state’s ADAP waiting list will last through the 2012 funding year.

Lorraine Wells of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS said that by Sept. 1, Florida had received all of its federal grants, at which point the Bureau started moving people off the waiting list.

Wells added that as of Nov. 30, 74 percent of the people who remain on the waiting list are males, 25 percent are female and 1 percent are transgender. She said that a racial breakdown of people still on the waiting list shows that 43 percent are African-Americans, 24 percent are white, 24 percent are Hispanic, 5 percent Haitian and the remaining 4 percent come from different racial backgrounds.

Joe May, also from the Bureau of HIV/AIDS, said during the webinar that opposition to a Bureau cost containment measure to reduce eligibility to the ADAP program, from 400 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent, has been duly noted.

According to Mays, ADAP eligibility will stay at 400 percent, and if “there are any changes the community will be notified.”

In another cost-containment measure, Florida also reduced the number of medications available to people in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Responding to questions about the reduction, May and Wells said the prescription list supplied by ADAP will remain stable.

Liberti said President Obama’s announcement on Thursday that his administration will increase funding for treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is good news. Liberti added that by applying the 10 percent rule, Florida could receive up to $3.5 million for ADAP expenditures.

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