The United States has first experienced the terror of AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome during the year 1980. Characterized by its ability to weaken the immune system, the early years of AIDS in the United States were marked by explosive rates of illnesses and morbidity (The AIDS Drug Assistance Program: Following the Epidemic: Past, Present, and Future, 2005). As more people die or experience grave disease, the public along with the medical community and pharmaceutical companies have demanded a strong and immediate response to this newly public health crisis.
But it was not until the year 1984 that the definite cause of AIDS was identified. This disease was caused by a transmittable virus known as HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and medical experts have understood that, if left untreated, the individual suffering from this disease could only endure ten years before death. Although the cause was identified and the public became more aware about this disease, researchers were not that fast in coming up with new medical treatment and drugs to combat this growing epidemic (The AIDS Drug Assistance Program: Following the Epidemic: Past, Present, and Future, 2005).
It was in the year 1987 that new drugs and medical treatment was made available to the public for possible eradication of this disease. However, treating AIDS was costly and treatment did not guarantee health improvement. With mounting pressure from the public, the Congress has approved multiple policies that would allot funding for drug development and research of possible ways for treating AIDS. It was in 1990 when Congress decided to pass the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency (The AIDS Drug Assistance Program: Following the Epidemic: Past, Present, and Future, 2005).
This legislation was commonly known as CARE Act, and it offered a comprehensive programmatic response to the epidemic and served as the main source of funding for treatments and drug development dedicated to eradicate or stop the growth of AIDS. Through this newly formed legislation, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program or ADAP was formed. With the funding of the Ryan White Care Act, the ADAP was meant to provide medical help for those uninsured or underinsured patients that are suffering from AIDS.
It was a major breakthrough since it allowed individuals to receive costly treatment even if they were ineligible for Medicaid. ADAP is also responsible for paying drugs for individuals who do not have enough money to support the treatment, and to provide devices and access to facilities that could improve the individual’s health conditions (The AIDS Drug Assistance Program: Following the Epidemic: Past, Present, and Future, 2005). The evolution of HIV infection and AIDS during the last two decades has caused implications regarding the structure of ADAP.
In its current state, ADAP is faced with a growing number of patients infected with AIDS along with substantial increase in the cost of medical treatment, use of facilities and availability of drugs. Although the funds allotted by the U. S. government for combating AIDS has increased in the last decade, there are still states who suffer from budget shortfalls (The AIDS Drug Assistance Program: Following the Epidemic: Past, Present, and Future, 2005).
If budget shortfalls occur, the State could be forced to implement restrictions regarding medical treatment and by doing so, decreasing the chance of survival for patients who cannot afford costly treatment. Furthermore, states vary greatly on how they operate and allocate their resources for ADAP programs. Although there is an allotted fund under the ADAP program to combat AIDS, about 20 out of 50 states put in no money of their own and entirely rely on federal funds. Thus resulting in restrictions on ADAP program or running out of money for the treatment (Carbaugh and Kates, 2007).