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|AIDS activists ask Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to add $5 million to drug program|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|December 02, 2010 15:31|
With approximately 800 people in Georgia on a waiting list to receive life-saving HIV/AIDS medications, activists are urging Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to increase funding to the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program by $5 million in his first budget.
At a press conference inside the State Capitol on Wednesday — World AIDS Day — approximately 50 HIV activists and those living with HIV delivered some 1,200 postcards to Deal’s office at the state Capitol urging him to fund the ADAP program that provides medication to those who can’t get them any other way.
“It is absolutely unforgivable that in this day and age a state like Georgia would have a waiting list for ADAP,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality that has founded the Save Georgia’s Drug Assistance Program group.
“Last year we saw a 17 percent increase in people using ADAP … a record 5,700 people used ADAP last year — men and women throughout the state of Georgia who have no other option,” Graham said.
There is currently a $15 million shortfall in the state’s ADAP program, Graham said. Georgia is expecting $10 million federal funding next spring but only if the state also funds the program, he explained.
“This shortfall is the result of the economy and due to heightened awareness of the importance of testing for HIV,” Graham said.
“Before Thanksgiving there were 751 people on list. I’m sure now it is close to 800. Most of them are newly diagnosed with HIV or trying to seek care and treatment for the first time and told they have to wait,” he said. “And they have to wait indefinitely because we don’t know if and when if the dollars will come.”
Without new funding, the ADAP waiting list is expected to grow to 1,300 people by next spring, Graham said. Since the waiting list was implemented July 1, there have been 30 people added each week to the list.
Asking Deal to add $5 million to the ADAP program will be difficult, Graham acknowledged, but the result would actually be cost effective to the state overall.
“Keep one thing in my mind. It costs $9,000 per year per person on ADAP. If people don’t have access to meds early on they will develop AIDS. The cost of treating someone with AIDS is much more costly and if someone is hospitalized the cost can reach $150,000,” Graham said.
When Deal served in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was supportive of funding the Ryan White Act, which provides federal funding to AIDS programs including ADAP. And Graham noted that Gov. Sonny Perdue never recommended cuts to ADAP.
“We hope Deal does the same,” Graham said.
Top Photo: Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, shows the some 1,200 postcards from people around the state asking Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to increase funding for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program. (by Dyana Bagby)
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