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Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Nov 15;43(10):1357-64. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

Optimizing resource allocation in United States AIDS drug assistance programs.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



US acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Drug Assistance programs (ADAPs) provide medications to low-income patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection/AIDS. Nationally, ADAPs are in a fiscal crisis. Many states have instituted waiting lists, often serving clients on a first-come, first-served basis. We hypothesized that CD4 cell count-based ADAP eligibility would improve ADAP outcomes, allowing them to serve more-diverse patient populations and to prioritize persons who are at greatest risk of HIV-related mortality.


We used Massachusetts ADAP administrative data to create a retrospective cohort of Massachusetts ADAP clients from fiscal year 2003. We then used a model-based analysis to apply potential eligibility criteria for a limited program and to compare characteristics of patients included under CD4 cell count-based and first-come, first-served eligibility criteria.


In fiscal year 2003, Massachusetts ADAPs served 3560 clients at a direct cost of 10.3 million dollars. With use of CD4 cell count-based eligibility (with an eligibility criterion of a current or nadir CD4 cell count < or = 350 cells/microL), it would have served 2253 clients (37% fewer than in fiscal year 2003) and appreciated savings of 2.7 million dollars. Given the same budget constraint and using first-come, first-served eligibility, Massachusetts ADAPs would have served 2406 clients (32% fewer than in fiscal year 2003). The first-come, first-served approach would have excluded patients with median CD4 cell count of 257 cells/microL (interquartile range, 124-377 cells/microL) in favor of serving patients with median CD4 cell count of 659 cells/microL (interquartile range, 511-841 cells/microL). In addition, a CD4 cell count-based scheme would have served a greater proportion of nonwhite individuals (65% vs. 55%; P<.0001), non-English speakers (24% vs. 19%; P=.03), and unemployed people (69% vs. 61%; P=.0009), compared with the population that would have been served by a first-come, first-served policy.


With limited resources, ADAPs will serve more-diverse populations and patients with significantly more advanced HIV disease by using CD4 cell count-based enrollment criteria rather than a first-come, first-served approach.

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