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A recent study showed that women enrolled in AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) were more likely to be taking antiretroviral (ARV) medication according to treatment guidelines than women not on ADAPs. The study found that these findings apply to women that also have private health insurance as well.

Due to the unfortunate shortage in funding, several states have had to establish waiting lists for new enrollees. Some states have restricted their enrollment requirements so much that patients who used to qualify for ADAP are now being denied. The financial crisis makes it is extremely important to understand the value of ADAPs, and this study set out to investigate how access to free or discounted medications through ADAP affect whether a person is being treated appropriately.

The researchers analyzed data from 1,139 HIV-positive women from California, New York, and Illinois, who were enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) during 2008. The team found that women on ADAP were twice as likely to be taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in accordance with treatment guidelines compared to women not on ADAP. This was still the case when the team included women who also had private health insurance. The study concluded that government-funded programs for prescription drug coverage such as ADAP play a critical role in how HIV-positive women access and use essential medications.

The researchers state, “In summary, in light of recent and proposed funding cuts for ADAP and projected increase in demand of ADAP services, we provided evidence that this program was strongly associated with better HAART medication use.” They go on to conclude, “We also found that populations that constitute the majority of ADAP enrollees, those with lower income and of black descent, had decreased HAART use compared with those with higher incomes and of nonblack descent. As a result, state ADAPs should be continued to improve antiretroviral use in these at-risk populations.”

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