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AIDS treatment crisis – Survey finds funding gap

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As drug costs climb along with patient numbers, U.S. AIDS drug assistance programs soon may find it difficult to meet patient needs in spite of recent federal funding increases, Reuters reports.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that AIDS drug assistance programs have experienced tremendous growth in the last five years, Reuters says.

The number of new clients has doubled since 1995, when antiretroviral therapy became the standard of care.

During the same period, monthly drug expenditures by these programs more than tripled.

Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says growing federal contributions to these programs are not keeping pace with the escalating demand for newer, more expensive drug combination treatments. 

The study also finds that access to AIDS drug assistance programs variey dramatically from state to state.

Twenty states have enrollment limitations, and nine states predicted their program budgets would be exhausted by the end of 1999.

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