By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com September 27 2003 12:00 AM ET
Officials with AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are concerned that the federal government's push for wider HIV antibody testing and the use of rapid HIV tests that can produce results in 20 minutes is going to dramatically increase the number of people who learn they carry the virus. If many of these newly diagnosed people are low-income, they may overwhelm already financially strapped ADAPs and state-run Medicaid programs.
"It's going to be a huge strain on the program, and we're already experiencing waiting lists, so it absolutely is a big concern," Murray Penner, director of the HIV treatment program of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, told AIDS Alert.
Bill Arnold, director of the ADAP Working Group, said ADAP officials expect the new push for HIV antibody testing to add between 5,000 and 15,000 new enrollees into ADAPs, which will be hard-pressed to accommodate the influx. Fifteen state ADAPs already have implemented waiting lists, tightened eligibility requirements, or cut back on the number of drugs offered to reduce budget deficits. Three HIV-positive people in West Virginia have died while waiting for access to that state's ADAP.