In the next few weeks New Mexico health secretary Patricia Montoya is to consider a recommendation from the public health division that the state join 11 others in closing AIDS Drug Assistance Program enrollment to new clients who cannot afford anti-HIV drugs or health insurance. According to Don Torres, the state's AIDS director, New Mexico has 587 HIV-positive people who depend on the health department's dispensation of 78 different anti-HIV medications. Even as the number of patients needing the drugs has continued to rise, the state has faced flat funding from the federal government. According to PHD director Joyce Naseyowma-Chalan, 63% of the division's HIV money comes from the federal government.
In part because patients lobbied for funds, New Mexico has had one of the nation's model ADAPs. But as improved drugs have kept patients alive longer, urgency about the matter has receded, says patient advocate Dana Rice.
The POZ Coalition has worked with state senator Phil Griego to propose the Billy Griego Act to next year's legislature. Named for the senator's brother who died of AIDS complications in 1987, the act would take HIV money from the general fund and put it in a designated pool. Gov. Bill Richardson has not reviewed the proposed legislation, according to health policy adviser Jessica Sutin. (AP)