One hundred eighty groups from 29 states on Thursday sent a letter to President Bush asking him to request an additional $283 million in federal funding for the nation's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in fiscal 2004. Congress is currently considering appropriations bills that boost spending by only about 10% of that amount. ADAPs provide anti-HIV drugs to low-income and uninsured people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. But funding for the programs has not kept up with demand, and 10 states, including Texas and Georgia, have had to restrict access to some of the drugs provided or cap enrollments to avoid large deficits. ADAP waiting lists already have about 1,000 people on them, AIDS officials say.
The letter says the $283 million in new funds is needed to help these programs eliminate the restrictions and prevent others from curtailing access to life-saving medications. The Administration "must take as public a stand on domestic AIDS needs as it has on addressing the global AIDS crisis," the letter states. It also calls on Bush to "take bold steps in addressing this urgent need" and calls on the president to "support the highest possible funding for all programs funded by the Ryan White CARE Act to protect critical support and care services for people with HIV/AIDS."
Among the groups signing the letter are the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Florida AIDS Action, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Gay Men's Health Crisis, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the National Association of People With AIDS, Project Inform, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the Treatment Action Group.