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AIDS Project Los Angeles condemns governor’s proposal to force California's poorest to pay for life-saving HIV treatments

LOS ANGELES – AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) again this week called on the California Legislature to roll back the governor’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) cost-sharing proposal, which threatens access to life-saving HIV drug therapies for many of the state’s poorest living with HIV/AIDS.

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal mirrors an earlier plan he put forth in January. Along with additional reductions in the state’s contributions from its General Fund to pay for ADAP, the new proposal would mean that ADAP clients, among California’s poorest residents, would, for the first time in the program’s history, be paying more into ADAP than the state would contribute from its own General Fund coffers.

“The governor is asking people with no other means of survival to bear the brunt of California’s fiscal crisis,” said Craig E. Thompson, APLA executive director. “We know what that means: Cost-sharing co-pays drive low-income people out of care, and tragically, that means higher rates of AIDS-related deaths. And those who are HIV-positive would be forced to make unthinkable choices between life-saving medications or other necessities, like food or rent.”

The governor is proposing to charge low-income, uninsured Californians who are HIV-positive on average between $813 to over $4,600 annually to continue receiving drug regimens, vital to maintaining their health, through ADAP. The fees would apply to all Californians who are living with HIV/AIDS but whose earnings exceed the federal poverty level – little more than $10,000 per year.

“These fees would place life-saving HIV treatments beyond the reach of the state’s most vulnerable,” Thompson said. “If the cost of drugs becomes prohibitive, sadly, larger numbers of Californians will lose their battle with AIDS, and we will see an increase in the number of new HIV infections statewide.”

“The California State Senate has already rejected the governor’s cost-sharing proposal this year,” Thompson said, “and now it is up to the State Assembly to do the same. We will continue to work with the legislature and the Brown administration to again defeat this senseless proposal.

“If the state really wants to save money, then we should prioritize and expand HIV prevention programs while guaranteeing access to HIV care and treatment for those who cannot afford it. Any short-term savings generated by this proposal would be quickly outpaced by a rise in medical costs as more Californians fall ill and rates of new and potentially preventable infections climb,” he said.

AIDS Project Los Angeles, one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States, provides bilingual direct services, prevention education and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. With more than 25 years of service, APLA is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach. For more information, visit HERE.