The number of Florida HIV/AIDS patients on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list has continued to rise over the month of January.
According to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, 2,879 HIV/AIDS patients were on Florida’s Drug Assistance Program waiting list by Jan. 20 — up from 2,715 people around Jan. 6. (See the full fact sheet below.)
The program supplies anti-retroviral medications through federal and state funds to more than 10,000 low-income HIV/AIDs patients in Florida. The Sunshine State’s program was capped on June 1, 2010 — leading to the steadily rising number of those assigned to the waiting list.
The Florida Independent reported last week that Tom Liberti, head of the Florida Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS Bureau, said the department was “very close” to a temporary solution for the short-term funding crisis the AIDs Drug Assistance Program is facing:
Florida’s drug assistance program is set to run out of money in early February, but federal funds won’t arrive until April. Keeping the program running in the meantime could cost $14.5 million dollars, according to the health department.
In the meantime, Florida has limited the medications available to patients currently using the program.
Dr. Robert Heglar, the associate medical director of Care Resources, says the list of drugs made available through the drug assistance program has been truncated to focus on anti-retroviral drugs, saying it can be difficult for patients to access medications like antibiotics and antidepressants.
Heglar said that Care Resources — a community-based organization that has been serving people who live with HIV/AIDS in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for 20 years — is working through pharmaceutical assistance programs to get medication to their patients.
Brandon Macsata, CEO of the ADAP Advocacy Association AAA+, told the Independent that an unknown number of patients are getting their medications through these pharmaceutical assistance programs.
AAA+ and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation are hosting an emergency summit this weekend to explore both temporary and long-term solutions to the Drug Assistance Program funding shortfall.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors’ fact sheet: