The Virginia Department of Health will stop enrolling people into its $21.6 million AIDS Drug Assistance Program, The Roanoke Times reports.
The state funds approximately 10% of the program, leaving the rest of the tab for the federal government, which pays about 90% through the Ryan White CARE Act.
About 760 Virginians living with HIV or AIDS who have more stable immune systems will transition to a waiting list for the next few months. An additional 400 new clients who would have qualified to join the program will also be sent to the list. Enrollment will now be limited to pregnant women, children younger than 18, and people receiving treatment for an active opportunistic infection, according to the health department . The department predicts that those on the waiting list will be covered by Medicaid or drug companies' assistance programs.
Stacie Walls-Beegle, executive director of Access AIDS Care, says forcing patients to rely on outside sources for drug assistance is worrisome.
"I can imagine that, at some point, the patient assistance programs are going to get maxed out," she told the Times.
The program launched in Virginia in 1996, and over its first decade it was actually losing clients, according to a recent George Mason University report. However, between spring 2007 and spring 2010, the total number of patients grew 21%, to the point that the program served almost 4,000 people.