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AIDS Project Los Angeles Lauds Governor's May Revise Budget

May 17, 2011

Los Angeles – AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) today commended Gov. Jerry Brown for keeping the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) whole in his May Revise budget, especially in light of a new study demonstrating the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS drug treatment in preventing new infections.

“We now have irrefutable evidence that HIV/AIDS drug treatments dramatically reduce new infections,” said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. “So maintaining near-universal access to this program continues to be very sound public health and fiscal strategy, even in the current difficult budgetary environment.”

Thompson’s statement refers to a new multinational study, released last week, that demonstrated that starting HIV-positive individuals on HIV/AIDS drug therapy as soon as they learn of their infection can reduce transmission to uninfected partners by up to 96 percent.

“We need to make sure that every person with HIV has access to treatment,” Thompson said. “If they want treatment but can’t get their drugs, then the state will just see more new infections, more human suffering, and more sick people needing more expensive health care on down the line.”

The governor’s revised budget proposes over $17 million in savings to the $511 million ADAP program. The Assembly adopted the same savings earlier this year. In his initial January budget, the governor had proposed over $19 million in savings to ADAP by imposing significant premiums on program beneficiaries.

ADAP provides HIV/AIDS drugs to nearly 40,000 low-income, uninsured or underinsured Californians each year. Preventing a single new HIV infection saves the state an estimated $600,000 in lifetime treatment costs.

Nationally, ADAP is funded by state and federal funds. This funding has failed to keep pace with growth in the program and increased drug costs. Today there are over 8,000 HIV-positive individuals on wait lists for ADAP nationwide, most of them in the south. In California, the state contributes over $80 million to ADAP, the federal government over $100 million, and another $250 million is returned to the state in rebates from pharmaceutical companies.