The expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky under the Affordable Care Act is benefiting a program run by the state that prescribes medication to low-income patients with HIV and AIDS.
Kraig Humbaugh is senior deputy commissioner for the state’s Department of Public Health. He told lawmakers on the Joint Committee for Health and Welfare today that the state’s health insurance exchange under the ACA, known as Kynect, is providing more comprehensive treatment for those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.
“With the advent of expanded Medicaid, and through the new qualified insurance programs that are available through Kynect, more clients are now transitioning from the ADAP program, or the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program, to be able to get comprehensive health insurance, and from our standpoint that’s a good thing,” Humbaugh said.
The department’s findings show that African-Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by the virus, mirroring a national trend. According to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, African-Americans make up 38 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases despite representing only eight percent of the state population.
Humbaugh's only explanation for the difference lies in the risk factors listed by the data.
“The number one is men who have sex with men, unprotected sex, but you could see also that’s followed by folks who are IV-drug use, and also folks who have unprotected heterosexual sex,” Humbaugh said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, African-American males suffer from “limited access to and use of quality health care, lower income and educational attainment, and higher rates of unemployment and incarceration,” which contributes to the higher rate nationally.
From 1982-2012, the number of patients living with HIV has increased exponentially, with just seven reported cases in the state in 1982, up to 5,600 as of 2012.