A record 8,300 people in 13 states are on waiting lists for HIV and AIDS medications—and the true number could be much higher, advocates say. As states struggle with budget shortfalls, many are scaling back efforts to provide antiretrovirals and other drugs by eliminating waiting lists, reducing eligibility, or simply cutting funding, the Washington Post reports. “States that have changed their eligibility programs or don’t have a waiting list, or some states have disenrolled their patients, that’s a kind of silent crisis, I think,” says the director of one advocacy group.
Nearly 174,000 people are covered by AIDS drug assistance programs, or ADAPs, which cover HIV medications for those who can’t afford them or get them through insurance. The bulk of the funding for ADAPs is provided by the federal government and supplemented by many states. Though the federal government actually increased the budget for ADAP financing this year, more people are seeking assistance since the recession hit. Advocacy groups warn that the limiting of drugs is shortsighted, since HIV patients who receive medicine can better manage the disease and continue working, thus keeping state medical costs down in the long run.