NJ cuts access to free AIDS drugs

The News Leader

July 13, 2010 3:28:48 AM PDT
Some 950 HIV-positive patients in New Jersey will soon now longer receive free AIDS medications.

The new budget enacted this month will change income eligibility from $54,150 to $32,490 on Aug. 1.

More than 35,000 people in New Jersey are living with HIV or AIDS.

The state medication program enrolled 7,645 people last year.

Most are uninsured. Nearly half are African-Americans and 27 percent are Latinos.

Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh says New Jersey had been one of only five states to extend eligibility to those up to five times the federal poverty level. Walsh says the new income restrictions bring New Jersey into line with 28 other states.

Hyacinth Foundation director Kathy Ahearn-O'Brien says the change may force patients to quit their jobs to stay in treatment.