health NJ Cuts Access To Free AIDS Drug

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) – 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.

The HIV virus attacks the body’s CD4 helper T-Cells, attaching it’s GP120 receptor to the CD4 receptor and injecting its viral RNA and an enzyme called reverse transcriptase into the cell.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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