August 25, 2011
The waiting list for Georgia's AIDS Drug Assistance Program is the second-longest in the nation: Only Florida's ADAP list contains more names. The Georgia HIV Unit is hoping to receive a $3 million CDC grant this fall to clear that list.
"The existence of a waiting list is a powerful tool for us when applying for federal funds," said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, state commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH).
"We instituted that [ADAP waiting list] in Georgia to illustrate the need and document the need," said Fitzgerald. According to the ADAP Advocacy Association, 1,724 Georgians were on the waiting list as of Aug. 18.
DPH's HIV Unit is currently undergoing an internal audit to determine whether it and the community groups it funds are appropriately handling CDC money. "We want to make sure we are spending money effectively," said Fitzgerald.
"The investigation was initiated by several factors," explained Fitzgerald. "As a clinician, I didn't like that there were 1,600 people on the ADAP waiting list. Then we started looking at some of the community-based organizations, and some are spending $25 a person, some $75 a person, some more" for HIV testing.
Mark Douglas, co-founder and executive director of Savannah's My Brothaz Home as well as co-chair of the Georgia HIV Prevention Planning Group, expressed frustration with the HIV Unit. With grants sometimes months late being delivered, agencies are forced to lay off workers or compress work timetables. "The bureaucracy just takes forever. Sometimes it takes six months or more," he said.
Fitzgerald acknowledged the need for much improvement in the unit; however, she said some of the delay is caused by community groups that are late in filing their paperwork. She hopes it will soon be possible for organizations to complete the forms online rather than sending them through the mail.
Georgia Voice (Atlanta)
08.19.2011; Dyana Bagby
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