Budget crisis: HIV/AIDS patients to be dropped from program

TALLAHASSEE, FL (AP) - About 350 uninsured HIV/AIDS patients in Florida are expected to be dropped from a federally funded program that pays for all or most of their drugs.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the state Department of Health plans to drop the patients because of a budget crisis. Officials say another 2,000 HIV-positive patients could be dropped from the program if the state is unable to close a $16 million shortfall.

Tom Liberati, chief of the state's Bureau of HIV/AIDS told the newspaper the state is pursuing every possible legal and financial option to make up the deficit.

Liberati says almost all of the 350 patients will be able to get free or low-cost medicine through manufacturer-assistance programs. Activists say the health of patients is at risk.

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