States Get New Funds To Care For Poor With HIV-AIDS

More financial help is on the way for poor and uninsured Americans with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. As of this month, states are eligible for $794 million in new federal grants to improve primary care and access to medicine for low-income, underinsured and uninsured HIV-positive people.

The grants, announced by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Donna Shalala on April 7, include $528 million that will go to the states' AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP). Each state ADAP subsidizes HIV medicine for those who can't afford it or lack insurance. The remainder of the grant will be used to pay for primary care and support services for indigent HIV/AIDS patrients, such as in-home nursing care or doctor visits.

"The growth in the ADAP funding is a mark of how the medication in the treatment of AIDS has improved and the impact that [the drugs] are having on improving the lives of people with AIDS," said Tom Flavin, spokesperson for the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the federal agency that administers the grants.

In 1996, the first year states got money earmarked for ADAP, the sum was $52 million.

New York will get the biggest chunk of the $794 million -- $138,462,204. California and Florida follow with grants of $106,594,028 and $84,151,932, respectively.

The grants, funded under the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990, are based on the estimated number of people in each state with AIDS. Ryan White was an Indiana teenager afflicted with hemophilia who became infected with AIDS and ultimately died after receiving a contaminated blood transfusion.

According to HRSA, the money provided by this year's grants will help 78,000 indigent HIV-positive people get medicine each month.