For Immediate Release
San Francisco, January 6, 2012 - San Francisco AIDS Foundation is deeply concerned about significant cuts in the governor’s proposed budget which would severely impact tens of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and urges him to identify alternate cost-saving measures. The cuts will place a disproportionate financial burden on some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens and seriously jeopardize their health.
The governor’s plan calls for low-income and uninsured HIV-positive people in the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Plan, or ADAP, to share costs and in some cases monthly co-payments could be as high as nearly $400 for life-saving medications. Forcing co-payments for AIDS drugs during these troubling economic times will ultimately result in people dropping out of the program altogether, putting their health and the greater community at risk.
“Now is not the time to place a heavier financial burden on people who are already living on the margins and rely on this program to stay healthy,” said Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, director of state and local affairs. “ADAP is an essential life-line to people across our state who would not otherwise be able to access HIV medications.”
ADAP provides medications to more than 40,000 low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people. Cuts to ADAP services will have costly implications for our state and will result in advanced HIV disease, increased co-morbidities, and even premature death for Californians.
Medications provided by ADAP also help to prevent the spread of HIV. People on effective treatment can reduce the amount of HIV in their blood to undetectable levels. Mounting evidence shows an undetectable viral load makes HIV-positive people less likely to spread the virus to others. In fact, a study published by the National Institutes of Health shows HIV-positive people who are on drug therapies are 96% less likely to transmit the virus to their uninfected partners. For every new HIV infection we prevent, California saves an estimated $600,000 in lifetime treatment costs.
“Maintaining current ADAP funding is essential to our efforts to end HIV/AIDS once and for all,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “At a time when we should be expanding treatment to people living with HIV, because it is proven to stop the spread of the disease, the governor proposes we take a step backward and that’s not acceptable public health policy.”
San Francisco AIDS Foundation and its partners across the state stand ready to play an active role in voicing the concerns of all people living with HIV to the governor and the legislature to ensure everyone has access to proper care and treatment.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, go to www.sfaf.org.