Federal grant helps low-income Augusta-area HIV patients

Dorothy Stokes, a patient assistance analyst, helps an HIV patient get medication provided by funding from the Ryan White Program.



Eighteen low-income patients with HIV at Medical College of Georgia Hospital were chosen this week from a long waiting list to receive costly medications from the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

To help Georgia fund its AIDS Drugs Assistance Program for those who can’t afford the medications, the state recently received a $3 million federal grant from the Ryan White Program. Those remaining on the waiting list receive medications from pharmaceutical companies as part of the state’s Pharmaceutical Assistance Program.

“From a patient’s point of view, it will be transparent. From our point of view, we will be able to get these people on ADAP and have a guaranteed source until it runs out,” said Larry Howell, the Ryan White Program manager at MCG.

The Ryan White Program treats 1,356 clients and receives about 17 new patients each month, Howell said. The MCG waiting list for the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program has 131 people.

“As we increase our numbers, it’s very difficult to maintain the requirements when you have to deal with level funding,” Howell said.

Treatment costs about $10,800 for each patient annually, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The latest funding will remove 277 people from the state’s AIDS Drugs Assistance Program waiting list, which has 1,732 people.

Dorothy Stokes, a patient assistance analyst, helped one of the 18 patients chosen from the waiting list complete paperwork Wednesday.

Her patient, who asked not to be named, was added to the waiting list seven months ago. When he received a recent phone call from Stokes, he had forgotten he was waiting to receive his medications from the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

“It felt good. It felt like I would be taken care of,” he said. “If I follow the instructions on the medications, I’ll live a little longer. I’ll be able to play with my grandchildren.”