San Francisco, May 14, 2012 - San Francisco AIDS Foundation urges Governor Jerry Brown to re-examine significant cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program in his revised budget, released today. The cuts, originally proposed in January, would severely impact tens of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and will place a disproportionate financial burden on some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens and seriously jeopardize their health.
The governor’s revised budget continues to call 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.
“ADAP is an essential life-line to people who are already living on the margins and would not otherwise be able to access HIV medications,” said Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, director of state and local affairs. “Forcing co-payments for AIDS drugs will ultimately result in people dropping out of the program altogether, putting their health and the greater community at risk. We now call on the legislature to make sure the governor’s cuts are rejected.”
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. For every new HIV infection we prevent, California saves an estimated $600,000 in lifetime treatment costs.
“We have made tremendous progress in recent years in reducing new HIV infections and improving the health of all people living with the disease, and ADAP has been central to those efforts,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “We recognize these are difficult economic times, but this short-term solution will only lead to long-term problems in California with regard to HIV/AIDS. We strongly urge the governor and lawmakers to keep us moving forward in the fight against the disease, not backward.”
San Francisco AIDS Foundation and its partners will continue to work with our allies in the legislature over the next month and a half to ensure that these cuts are not implemented and that everyone living with HIV/AIDS in California 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.