Georgia Health News published an article last week on the state’s waiting list for low-income people to receive government help in obtaining HIV medications.
At the time, GHN attempted to get comment from Department of Public Health officials prior to the article’s publication, but the officials could not be reached.
The agency has since responded with the following explanation of its HIV programs, which we are publishing in the interest of thoroughness:
There are two pools of funding relative to HIV and AIDS in Georgia – one aimed at HIV prevention and another aimed at treatment. These federal funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the CDC cannot be commingled.
The reality is, Georgia is receiving more funding this year, and not less, to address HIV prevention efforts.
While the Department of Public Health has received a reduction of $3.7 million in federal prevention funding this fiscal year, the CDC has separately awarded Fulton and DeKalb counties $4.5 million for HIV prevention – representing an increase in total federal prevention funds allocated to the state of Georgia of $800,000. This also represents a shift in the CDC’s prevention funding allocation, which we understand to be based in concentrated [HIV] positivity rates:
• Approximately 59 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in Georgia reside in Fulton and DeKalb Counties.
• Of the 42,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Georgia, approximately 18,000 are Fulton County cases and approximately 6,800 cases are in DeKalb county.
We also want to clarify how the department is utilizing federal treatment funds allocated for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Georgia’s current federal funding for ADAP is $36,470,218 for FY 2011.
In October, the state of Georgia received $3 million in Emergency Relief Funding (ERF) for ADAP. Georgia and other Southeastern states received the second-largest funding allocation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of an application for assistance the state filed in December 2010. These funds cannot be used to address HIV prevention. The department has processed and approved 538 new applicants for ADAP since receiving the ERF in October.
Georgia’s maintenance of an ADAP waiting list allows DPH to ensure that those in need receive medications either through ADAP or the pharmaceutical company assistance programs. And the waiting list is vital in the department’s requests for supplemental federal funding. Most importantly, without an accurate and timely accounting, we would not be able to measure and respond to need in Georgia.
It is imperative to understand that even those persons on the ADAP wait list are receiving medications through the drug company assistance programs.
The following are additional, important statistics about ADAP:
The ADAP wait list is down to 1,320 as of January 26. This is a decrease of 412 from the ADAP waiting list from 1,732 since receiving the Emergency Relief Funding.
• About $10,800 is required to treat each person living with HIV/AIDS annually. The state would need an additional $14,558,400 to eliminate the ADAP wait list – if the department relied solely on ADAP as a remedy. The Department does not, and instead is working to move clients to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
• The department plans to remove 200 additional clients from the ADAP wait list by the end of February.
• During FY 2011, 891 persons were removed from the wait list in Georgia and enrolled into ADAP.
• On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2011, the Obama administration pledged an additional $35 million to address the ADAP wait list nationally.
We hope this overview provides a greater understanding of the department’s efforts to address HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Georgia.
(Here’s a link to the original GHN article on the ADAP waiting list.)