Last week, the Ohio Department of Health announced changes to a national program that serves people living with HIV/AIDS. Changes to the Ryan White program will cut medical services, restrict eligibility, institute a services wait list, and reduce medications currently offered by the program.
Right now more than 14ooo Ohio residents living with HIV/AIDS are served by the program, but escalating costs and a projected state defecit of 16.4mil will cut that number.
Bill Hardy with AIDS Resource Center Ohio isn't sure the cuts will stop there. He says, "It's our [ARC] understanding that not all the decisions about cuts to the program have been made, or been made public. So, there may be additional cuts announced down the road."
The program cuts will largely impact the growing number of people without health insurance. That makes it tough for service organizations, which have seen their own funding losses this year.
Hardy says, "In 2010, ARC had documented about $160,000 in loss of funding, which is just agonizing. If there are any programs that need additional funding, like the Ryan White program, it is for services in HIV testing and HIV prevention."
Prevention and testing are extremely important when you consider that ARC and the Center for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 5 people living with HIV don't know they've been infected.