Through a federal grant Arkansas is able to assist 460 patients who need help paying for anti-HIV medications. Because demand is soon expected to surpass that number, the state plans to reinstitute a waiting list. "AIDS patients are living longer lives because they have access to better meds," explains Ann Wright, spokeswoman for the state health department. "It raises the number of clients that are enrolled in [the AIDS Drug Assistance Program], and so the waiting list is looming.
To be eligible for ADAP, Arkansas residents must have an income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level--$27,930 for a single person. ADAP provides more than $3 million in medication funding in Arkansas. Federal ADAP funding has fallen short of need for the past few years and 16 states, including Arkansas, have established waiting lists or limited eligibility, according to Wright. More than 300 new HIV infections are reported annually in Arkansas, although that number fell to 245 in 2003.
Eric Camp, who is both a client and director of public policy at Little Rock-based Positive Voices, says he will relinquish his slot in ADAP to the first person placed on the waiting list. Fort Smith Fights AIDS director Jay Burk says patients can access medications through pharmaceutical companies' charity programs.