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The North Carolina AIDS Drug Assistance Program will extend access to life-sustaining medications to all 278 North Carolinians who were on its waiting list as of the end of July, according a press release sent out today by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The move comes after the Obama Administration announced last month that it would release new funds to fight the AIDS epidemic in the United States. North Carolina received $3 million in emergency funding from the federal Health Resources and Service Administration.
“Today’s announcement shows the very real impact that public investment in HIV and AIDS services has on the lives and health of North Carolinians,” said Lisa Hazirjian, executive director of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network.
“This is great news for families affected by HIV and AIDS throughout the state,” Hazirjian said. “Access to care through programs such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program is critical to saving lives and reducing medical costs.”
More than 6,000 low-income North Carolinians receive access to medications through North Carolina’s HIV and AIDS drug assistance programs. The programs’ waiting list was opened in January, 2010, and peaked at 829 people in July, 2010.
Since 2010, the list has shortened dramatically, but today’s announcement marks the first time that every individual on the waiting list has been cleared for participation in the program.
The Health Department’s release notes that early treatment of infected individuals can have a major impact on the spread of HIV disease.
According to state officials, new applicants with an income between 126 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level will continue to be wait-listed.