Local News

AIDS Medication Program Out of Money

Posted October 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The state's federally funded AIDS medication program has run out of money. Local health leaders met in Raleigh Tuesday to decide how they can help the dozens of people who apply for the program each day.

When the meeting ended, there still were no answers to the problem. The problem, in a nutshell, is that there are drugs available to help those who are dying of AIDS. It it doesn't promise a cure, but is viewed within the medical community as the next best thing. Now, since hundreds of people dying of AIDS can't afford the drug, it is out of reach with federal assistance money gone

The Wake HIV/AIDS Care Coalition met Tuesday after receiving the devastating news. The North Carolina AIDS Drug Assistance Program will no longer be able to give a combination of medications known as a "cocktail" to new patients. The drugs have been known to dramatically improve and extend the lives of many.

The result is that health care providers and social service agencies now face the daunting task of turning away people who need the treatment.

Jacquelyn Clymore of the AIDS Service Agency says this will take progress back two years or more.

Directors of the drug assistance program say they thought their funding would last until just recently. Arthur Okrent, assistant director of the program, says costs and the number of patients have risen dramatically.

The drugs are very expensive. They can cost as much as $1,500 per month depending on the dosage one requires. The state program does not expect to get any more money from the federal government until April, so there will be many people turned away.

Those people who are already in the program will continue to get assistance.

Photographer:Ron Pittman