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Michael Harmon, chief of HIV and sexually transmitted disease services for the Oklahoma state health department, told a state senate panel this week that the department needs an additional $603,600 for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The money, Harmon said, would raise the amount of state funds for the program to nearly $1.39 million.
Oklahoma has about 5,456 HIV cases, but a 2004 estimate of unmet needs found that 3,084 Oklahoma HIV patients were not receiving care. The drug assistance program served 881 clients in 2004, according to Harmon, and the number of clients is expected to climb to 990 in 2006 and to 1,049 in 2007.
Drug expenses are a key component of the program's overall cost, Harmon said, noting that antiretroviral medicines can cost $14,000 annually per client. Oklahoma's program is capped at $12,000 per client. After that sum is reached, clients must rely on short-term help such as pharmaceutical companies' compassionate-care programs, Harmon noted. He said supplemental funds have allowed the program to lift the spending cap for some clients. (AP)