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Monday, October 31, 2011 - 1:00am

Grant Shrinks AIDS Drug Waiting List

Georgia has the second-longest waiting list for a program that provides low-income AIDS patients with costly medications. But that list recently shrunk by nearly 300 people thanks to an infusion of cash from the federal government.

The waiting list fell to about 1,400 people after the state received $3 million in federal money last month for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

Officials said it would take $15 million dollars to eliminate the waiting list.

“We don’t expect that there could possibly be that much additional funding in the Georgia appropriation in the next year, so we’re looking for any other legitimate source of funds that could be used to eliminate this,” said Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection at the state Dept. of Public Health.

O’Neal said they are looking at lots of ways to do that.

“We’re going be sending a team out to Arizona to study their program in more detail to see if there are any aspects of it that we could emulate and hopefully use that to further reduce the waiting list [in Georgia],” O’Neal said.

He said officials are also looking at Indiana’s programs.

The latest data shows about 17,000 Georgians are living with HIV and 23,000 are living with AIDS.

A year’s worth of medications cost more than $10,000.