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State HIV Drug Assistance Wait-list "At Zero"

Last summer the Ohio Department of Health made major changes to its AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. As a result hundreds who needed drugs were wait-listed. WOSU broke the story last year and has an update on the program. The Ohio HIV drug assistance program says its wait-list is down to zero. In July, nearly 500 people were waiting to get the life-saving drugs. But $11 million in recent grants and pharmaceutical rebates have enabled more people to be enrolled. Jay Carey is an analyst with the ODH’s HIV drug assistance program. Cary expects few people will have to wait to get on the drug assistance program at least through April. But, “There are too many variables looking beyond April First to say we won’t have a wait-list sometime next year, but at this point we expect to have a wait list at or near zero for several months.â€? Last summer, the state HIV drug assistance program faced tough decisions. At the time, it served about 5,000 people with about 100 new clients signing up every month. To sustain the program it reduced financial eligibility, formed a wait list and cut the number of drugs it offers. Two-hundred-fifty clients were dropped from the program. Funding remains flat. The program gets about $34 million between the federal government and the state. Carey said the cost containment measures and the most recent funds have helped save the program – at least temporarily. "We are considering bringing some of the medications back onto the formulary," Carey said. Peggy Anderson is the CEO for AIDS Resource Center Ohio. Anderson said no wait-list means HIV patients will have fewer hoops to jump through when it comes to getting their drugs. "It decreases the barriers, it decreases the time and effort that goes into getting these services and these medications for the clients," she said. More than 5,600 people are currently enrolled in the state HIV drugs assistance program. More than 16,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in Ohio.