People With HIV/AIDS Lobby California Legislature to Restore Funding Cuts, Columnist Reports
People with HIV/AIDS became "lobbyists for a day" on Monday, traveling to Sacramento to ask California legislators to restore funding cuts made last year to HIV/AIDS prevention and education services and to request $20 million in additional funding for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, Fresno Bee columnist Erin Kennedy writes. Prevention programs, such as the Women in Transition program run by the Living Room, a Fresno-based AIDS service group that sponsored the lobbying event, are in danger of closing if cuts made in last year's state budget are not restored, Toni Harrison, director of the program said. Women in Transition, which seeks to prevent HIV infection in high-risk women by providing health screenings, counseling and referrals for social services, has been operating on a $160,000 California Endowment grant, but that grant will run out at the end of the year and organizers are not sure where support will come from, Kennedy states. Activists said they would also like to see additional funding for the ADAP because many people who are not yet sick enough to qualify for Medicaid cannot afford their $1,200 to $5,000 monthly drug bill. Although the activists have definite monetary goals, they would "mostly" like to "remind legislators that AIDS has not gone away," Kennedy writes. Harrison explained, "Because of the advances in medication and the ability to control the virus for some people, it's seen as a controllable illness now, no worse than diabetes. But there are those who are infected who get sick immediately, or people who aren't diagnosed until it's too late" (Kennedy, Fresno Bee, 4/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.