The North Carolina AIDS Action Network, a coalition of AIDS advocates, activists, and caregivers, on Thursday announced that it will lobby the North Carolina legislature later this month to boost funding for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, The [Raleigh, N.C.] News and Observer reports. The state's ADAP, which provides free anti-HIV medications to uninsured and underinsured residents with HIV, in 2002 was closed to new enrollees, and a waiting list was started. An emergency one-time grant of $3 million from the legislature was used to eliminate the waiting list in the fall, but enrollment for the program has since been frozen, and more than 200 people are currently on another waiting list, said Steve Cline, North Carolina's chief epidemiologist.
North Carolina's ADAP eligibility requirements also are the most stringent in the nation--HIV-positive people can qualify for the program only if they earn less than $11,075 annually. Activists say the financial requirements are "unrealistic" because the five-figure annual price tag for anti-HIV therapy puts drug treatment out of reach for hundreds of HIV-positive state residents. The AIDS Action Network plans to ask lawmakers to allocate $13 million in state tax dollars to eliminate the waiting list and ease the eligibility requirements to 200% of the federal poverty level, or about $17,700 a year. The North Carolina legislature reconvenes in late January.