States scale back efforts to provide drugs for HIV, AIDS

Jonathan Zittrain imagines a time when there could be most tests like this one from HIV for genetic diseases like Parkinson's and heart disease.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: States with budget problems are finding it harder to provide care to people with HIV and AIDS. That's according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The foundation says more than 8,000 people are on waiting lists for medication and specific treatments from state-sponsored programs for the auto-immune disease.

Jennifer Kates is Vice President and Director of HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. And she's with us now from Washington. Good morning.

JENNIFER KATES: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Which states are slashing from the AIDS and HIV programs and how is that going to trickle out to patients?

KATES: Yeah, I think the bigger picture here is that may states in general are still feeling the effects of the worst recession that we've had in decades. How this plays out for people with HIV is that as states are struggling to cope and cutting back, it's going to affect access to care. The most visible example of that are AID DAPs.

CHIOTAKIS: And tell us what AID DAP is.

KATES: AID DAPs are AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. They are part of the Ryan White program, which is the main HIV-specific care program in the country. And it's really been a lifeline for so many people with HIV, but AID DAP programs which are a key part of it, have budget shortfalls for years and right now we're seeing wait lists at levels that we've never seen before.

CHIOTAKIS: So, how will these folks get the treatment they need?

KATES: Fortunately, many of them are getting the treatment they need through sort of temporary fixes -- going to a pharmaceutical company patent access program, or some other kind of short term fix. It's really not an insurance mechanism -- that kind of fix. But the states that are in this situation and many other case managers and providers are trying to work as best as they can with these clients to get them the drugs they need. Still, they can't get into the program for which they're eligible because there's just not enough money.

CHIOTAKIS: I can't image there's a good time for this to happen, but these cuts are coming at a really bad economic time, right?

KATES: Exactly, that's the other factor here. As people are loosing their jobs, and loosing income, they're going to need to depend much more on the public sector. And that's the very time when the public sector doesn't have the revenues that they need to support increased access. So it's a really vicious cycle that affects people at the end of the day.

CHIOTAKIS: Now these people are eventually, if they're not able to seek care, then that ends up hurting state coffers right?

KATES: If you don't get the care you need early, you get sick, you need much more complicated interventions. It's not good for you personally, but it's just also not good in general for the health care system. So if people aren't getting access when they need it, they're not able to prevent things from getting worse.

CHIOTAKIS: All right, Jennifer Kates with the Kaiser Family Foundation. Jennifer thanks.

KATES: Thank you very much.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...