Obama administration to eliminate ADAP wait lists

With the International AIDS Conference poised to get under way in Washington D.C., the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) this week announced that $80 million in grants will be used to increase access to HIV/AIDS related care throughout the nation.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said it is crucial for the thousands of low income and underserved people who will now continue to access life-saving medications and health care: $69 million will be channeled through the Ryan White AIDS Assistance Program (ADAP) to an estimated 25 states.

Perhaps the most significant impact of the increase in funding is the elimination of wait lists for treatment, ensuring those in need of care can access critical services. The remaining funding will be used to meet the needs of 14,000 new patients at Ryan White community-based health clinics nationwide. After the initial awards are made, HHS will make an additional $6 million available to states that demonstrate continued need.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been working to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its provisions that serve those in most need of medical care. Were it not for the health care reform law, a significant portion of the $80 million HHS funding would not exist.

As the Task Force and other progressive allied groups have emphasized, since the enactment of the ACA in March 2010, the health care reform law will meet many of the medical needs of underserved populations, like LGBT people, low-income people, people of color and people living with HIV/AIDS.

While we are pleased to see that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy continues to be a priority for the Obama administration generally, and within the Affordable Care Act, we hope that the administration will speak out against damaging practices against those living with HIV/AIDS.

A recent report from the Human Rights Watch indicates that police departments across the country are using the possession of condoms as grounds to arrest people for prostitution. This dangerous practice sends a message that is in direct conflict with the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and should swiftly be addressed by the Obama administration as unacceptable.