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U.S. to Help Buy AIDS Meds

U.S. to Help Buy AIDS Meds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide an additional $25 million to help people waiting for subsidized AIDS treatment, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on July 8. The money will come from "reallocating and transferring $25 million in existing resources," she said.

As of July 1 about 2,100 people were on waiting lists in 11 state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Across the United States thousands of other HIVers are affected by ADAP limits to eligibility, drug formularies, and enrollment restrictions.

The move reflects "the Administration's commitment to HIV treatment and care," said Howard K. Koh, HHS’s assistant secretary of health in charge of the program. Koh declined to reveal the sources of the redirected money.

Advocacy groups and state officials had urged the Obama administration to provide $126 million in emergency assistance through the current fiscal year. Sebelius said she is confident that the $25 million will cover existing and projected needs through September 30.

"The $25 million will help," said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, a patient-advocacy group. "It's a start. But it's definitely not enough."

"We appreciate the action taken by the Obama administration, but we are not sure it will be sufficient," said Ann Lefert, a policy analyst at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

Without public assistance, many patients cannot afford antiretroviral therapy. About 45% of the program's more than 168,000 beneficiaries in 2009 had incomes below the poverty level -- $10,830 for an individual.

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