Over the weekend, a coalition of North Carolina LGBT leaders and HIV/AIDS service providers met to plan strategy to fight recent cuts in the state’s AIDS drug assistance program (ADAP) for low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS, Q-Notes reports. This follows a recent announcement by the North Carolina Department of Health’s HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch announced enrollment in the state’s ADAP program would be capped at current levels.
The cap went into effect on Jan. 29. Those already enrolled continue to receive financial assistance needed to purchase life-saving HIV/AIDS medicines. The waiting list since Jan. 29 has already grown to over 100. At the time about 4,400 people had been enrolled in ADAP, compared to only 4,000 the same time last year. Although the program had been budgeted $11 million, that amount is about half what had been previously allotted.
The timing is critical. New data shows HIV infection rates are rising in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. Mecklenburg County has the highest HIV/AIDS rates across the state. Seroconversions in the Charlotte-area are disproportionately black gay and bisexual men. The Centers for Disease Controls reports young black men who have sex with men are the demographic hardest hit by the HIV epidemic and are seroconverting "at alarming rates" across the country and particularly in the South.