For Immediate Release
Los Angeles, Calif., May 16, 2011 – 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 program, largely by moving select enrollees to alternate health care programs such as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan created by the Affordable Care Act. 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.
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) was founded in 1983 and is one of the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organizations in the United States. APLA provides bilingual support to more than 6,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County annually and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. Additionally, APLA conducts behavioral research designed to inform the development of evidence-based interventions and assists health departments in evaluating their HIV/AIDS services to ensure the delivery of effective and quality programs. APLA also provides administrative and fiscal support to the Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSMGF), which promotes and advocates for the health and human rights of MSM internationally. APLA is proud to be a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national, and global reach. For more information, please visit apla.org.
APLA Health & Wellness (APLAHW) provides primary medical and oral health care, behavioral health services, HIV testing, PrEP counseling and management of eligible clients, STD screening/treatment, and health education and HIV-prevention services, with a specific focus on low-income LGBT people of color living in Los Angeles County. APLAHW is a federally qualified health center that includes: the Gleicher/Chen Health Center in South Los Angeles; the Wilshire Dental Clinic downtown; the S. Mark Taper Foundation Dental Clinic in South Los Angeles; Behavioral Health Services at the David Geffen Center in Mid-City; and a mobile dental facility. APLA Health & Wellness serves more than 8,000 people each year. For more information, please visit aplahw.org.