The Alabama Department of Public Health is considering cutting $1 million in state funding for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program to help eliminate an estimated $66.8 million budget deficit, the Birmingham News reports. The health department is considering reducing ADAP spending from $2.5 million to $1.5 million as part of its cost-cutting efforts. If the funding cut is made, about 100 people would be dropped from the ADAP, which provides free or low-cost drugs to low-income HIV-positive people in the state.
Health officials say any ADAP enrollees dropped from the program would likely be eligible to receive drug donations from the companies that make the anti-HIV medications, and health workers may even assist the people in arranging for those donations. But AIDS activists say there can be a significant lag time between applying for a pharmaceutical drug access program and actually receiving the medications. "We'll eventually get them on drugs, but you can't go without the drugs for three days," Kathie Hiers, executive director of AIDS Alabama, told the News. "This is definitely a life-and-death issue situation. We're not just blowing smoke here."
Many state ADAPs are facing financial problems, and 15 have already implemented waiting lists, tightened access requirements, or reduced the number of medications provided.