SF protesters put pressure on Arnold over ADAP

November 30, 2009 7:18:50 PM PST
On the eve of world AIDS day, Bay Area activists are putting the pressure on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fully fund a vital AIDS drug program. The state budget shortfall is putting even the most vital programs in jeopardy.

At Mom's Pharmacy in San Francisco's Tenderloin the focus is on AIDS patients. Many who come here are poor and rely on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, known as ADAP, to pay for their pills.

"I only take the one pill a day, but that one pill costs $17,000 a year," says Loren Jones.

Jones lives in Berkeley, but came to San Francisco City Hall on Monday to join other activists. ADAP is funded by both the federal and state governments and is designed to cover the uninsured and underinsured. About 80 percent of the patients make less than $21,000 a year.

Now there's concern that with California's budget crisis, ADAP may be in line for a state cut for the coming fiscal year.

"ADAP was set up as a program of last resort there is not another program that will pay for these medications if ADAP won't," says Dana Van Gorder from Project Inform.

In California 34,000 people rely on the drug program; about one-sixth of them live in San Francisco.

Jason Villalobos found out five years ago he had AIDS.

"I'm uninsured at the moment and unemployed thanks to this economy and if ADAP weren't around I would not have these life-saving medications and I would in fact die," says Villalobos.

Earlier this year the state slashed millions of dollars in HIV services, including testing, counseling, and prevention programs. The governor is now working on his budget proposal for next year.

A spokesman says "The governor has not made a preliminary or final decision on ADAP or any other public health program."

However, some AIDS advocates insist they've heard $100 million could be eliminated from the $414 million program and they say a funding loss could literally mean a loss of life.


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