Federal program cuts affect HIV patients

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Thousands of HIV patients nationwide may have to worry about where their drugs are coming from as 19 cash-strapped states are to cutting back on the federally funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

According to the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council, ADAP has been capped Louisiana since June 1st.

Forty-six residents locally and 470 patients statewide have not been able to enroll because the program is capped. Louisiana has the third highest number of patients in the country that have not been able to enroll.

"The cap is due to several different factors," said Carol Giles, the Director of Client Services for the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council. "The rate of new HIV infections has not significantly decreased and the cost of drugs keeps going up."

The cap is not leaving HIV and AIDS patients completely out of luck. Pharmaceutical companies are expanding access to their patient assistance programs to pick up the slack.

"As far as I know at least in our region, no one that needs medication and wants medication has had to do without them, don't know how long that will last," said Giles.

Angus Carter, an HIV patient from Lake Charles, said he could not have afforded necessary HIV medication without ADAP.

"It's real crucial," said Carter. "If I didn't have my medication I wouldn't be doing this interview. That's how serious it is."

An omnibus bill is currently going through Congress. If the bill passes, federal funding will be restored to the Aids Drug Assistance Program.

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