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End AIDS drug waiting lists, HIV care providers tell policymakers

WASHINGTON, DC--The nation's frontline HIV medical providers are calling for an end to waiting lists for essential anti-AIDS drugs that patients need in order to live.

In meetings with key congressional and Bush administration officials this week, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) and the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) are telling policymakers to make access to medical care for low-income people with HIV/AIDS the top priority when reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act, the nation's primary federal program dedicated to providing care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ryan White includes a constellation of programs designed to fill in gaps in health coverage for uninsured or underinsured people with HIV/AIDS. Ryan White programs provide aid ranging from social and support services like legal services, child care, and housing assistance to access to antiretroviral medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

"However, Ryan White does not currently give medical care and basic medical services the priority they should receive in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)," says Paul Volberding, MD, chair of the HIVMA Board of Directors. "Two million years of life have been saved since the introduction of HAART. Access to these revolutionary medicines and the medical services required to deliver and manage their use should be given precedence when Congress renews Ryan White this year."

"Lack of funding has, furthermore, forced some states to start waiting lists for anti-AIDS drugs," notes AAHIVM Board of Directors chairman John Stansell, MD. "This is completely unacceptable. Patients need those medications to live. The federal government should guarantee access to these essential medicines for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS."

The two leading HIV medical associations collectively represent nearly all of the medical providers delivering HIV care in the United States in a w
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