State funding for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs is not growing, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told attendees of a luncheon address Tuesday at the U.S. Conference on AIDS in Orlando, Fla.
According to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, 3,423 low-income or uninsured people were on waiting lists for help as of September 9.
About 50 protesters interrupted Sebelius' speech to demand more federal money for ADAPs. Sebelius said the Obama administration has this year added $25 million to support ADAPs and that she asked for $30 million more in the 2011 budget.
"It would be great to have our budget pass with the additional resources we've requested to make sure we can address the shortfall," Sebelius says. "We're looking for not only the increased federal dollars, but also working with our state partners to say this is a bad way to save dollars in state budgets."
In Florida, which hosted the conference this year, the state's contribution to its ADAP has dropped from $10.5 million in 2008 to $9.5 million in 2009. NASTAD reports that with 1,570 patients in need of help from ADAP, Florida's waiting list is the nation's longest.
High unemployment, state budget cuts, and increasing numbers of patients all have combined to overtax Florida's ADAP budget, according to Thomas Liberti, chief of the HIV/AIDS bureau for the state department of health.