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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the Obama administration will invest nearly $80 million in grants to increase access to HIV/AIDS care across the United States, a move expected to eliminate AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting lists.
The grants will ensure low-income people living with HIV/AIDS are able to access care and better afford the medicines needed to suppress the virus. Research has shown that patients who test positive and enter treatment sooner are better able to achieve full viral suppression.
“The entire administration is dedicated to fulfilling President Obama’s goal of an AIDS free generation and today’s announcement is one more step in that ongoing effort,” Sebelius said in a statement. “These grants will help make a real difference in the lives of Americans living with HIV/AIDS, especially those in underserved communities.”
Approximately $69 million will be provided to 25 states and territories through the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program.
The remaining $10 million, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, will be distributed to Ryan White community-based health clinics to expand access to medical and support services for 14,000 patients with HIV/AIDS. The money will also help states and communities pursue the goals, set by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, of increasing access to care and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
The money to eliminate ADAP waiting lists will likely come as welcome news to area health experts. According to a report issued by the Black AIDS Institute on HIV/AIDS among black men who have sex with men (MSM), Richmond, Va., was the third worst city for MSM living with HIV, due in large part to restrictions on their ADAP funds that limit eligibility.
Richmond was also ranked low because of nearly 600 HIV-positive people who have been placed on ADAP waiting lists. According to the Black AIDS Institute, Virginia alone accounts for nearly 28 percent of the number of people on waiting lists around the country.