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Senator Calls for More Funding

Senator Calls for More Funding

Florida senator Bill Nelson has announced his support for "robust funding" of the nation's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. As of August 12, there were 2,937 people in 13 states on waiting lists in the hope of accessing anti-HIV drugs through ADAP. More than a third of those placed on an ADAP waiting list, 1,178 patients, are in Nelson's home state, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

"The Democratic leadership has been AWOL on ADAP so we thank Senator Nelson for being among the first to speak out and for urging his Senate colleagues to address this funding shortfall that is crippling ADAP and threatening the lives of thousands of Americans," said Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Last month the Department of Health and Human Services said it was moving $25 million to ADAP for fiscal 2010 to help patients on waiting lists. However, $126 million is needed for ADAPs to meet current needs, NASTAD says. Weinstein said $25 million "would barely cover" those on the lists.

"While President Obama recently announced a reallocation of $25 million to states that have been hit hardest by the crisis, it may not be enough," Nelson wrote in a letter to Senate appropriators. "I urge you to join me in support of robust funding for programs like ADAP that offer real hope to Americans enduring the throes of this debilitating recession."

Under a measure cosponsored by Republican senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Mike Enzi, $126 million in unobligated stimulus funds would be redirected to clear the state ADAP waiting lists. The bill has not attracted support from Democrats.

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