Washington, D.C. -- The Obama Administration has taken an extraordinary step to ensure approximately 8,000 low-income people with HIV/AIDS in the United States can continue to access their life-saving medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Congress failed to include in the FY13 Continuing Resolution $35 million needed to ensure ADAP clients would continue to receive their medications.
On World AIDS Day in December 2011, in an effort to reduce ADAP waiting lists of over 5,000 people, President Obama transferred $35 million from other accounts to ADAP. Due to this emergency funding and other actions, including contributions from the pharmaceutical companies, today the wait lists have been reduced to fewer than 200 people.
Without continuation of this emergency funding, 8,000 patients in states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee and others would have lost access to their ADAP medications. Continuity of care and treatment is critical for people living with HIV/AIDS. Once a patient begins antiretroviral treatment, the drugs must be taken every day or the person can become ill. Resistance to medications can occur, leading to serious health complications and higher health costs.
This week, the Obama Administration announced it would again transfer $35 million to ADAP from various health programs. Congress also failed to continue $10 million in funding for medical clinics to meet the growing demand for AIDS care. Unfortunately, the Administration did not transfer any funding to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C Clinics.
"The AIDS Institute commends the Obama Administration for responding to this crisis created by Congress' failure to pass appropriations bills and instead govern through continuing resolutions," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "While we applaud this action, at the same time we express our deep concern that in order to fund ADAP other critical health programs were cut, including other parts of the Ryan White Program and HIV prevention at the CDC."
Additionally, ADAP and other HIV programs are being cut due to the sequestration. HHS has announced the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program would be cut this year by over $120 million, including $45 million to ADAP, and HIV prevention at the CDC would be cut by over $40 million. The impact of losing the ADAP funding would translate in an estimated 14,000 patients losing access to their medications.
"We are now experiencing the magnitude of the harmful cuts created by the sequestration," continued Schmid. "Patients will lose access to their AIDS care and treatment, and HIV prevention programs would be cut that will likely lead to increased infections." Without an agreement by the Congress and the President, these cuts will multiply in the coming years.
"The AIDS Institute calls on the President and the Congress to immediately sit down and come to an agreement to repeal the sequestration and address the federal budget deficit in a fair and balanced approach, rather than through damaging across the board cuts to almost every federal program," commented Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "Too many lives are at stake, along with the public health of the country."