AIDS Advocates Rally at Indianapolis State House To Raise Legislative Awareness of Disease
About 200 AIDS advocates gathered at the Indiana capitol in Indianapolis yesterday to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among state legislators, the AP/Indianapolis Star reports. People at the rally -- which was coordinated by the Indiana Primary Health Care Association's Indiana HIV/AIDS Alliance, a statewide, not-for-profit organization that promotes community health centers and access to primary care -- urged legislators to continue funding health initiatives that advance access to health insurance and prescription drugs. They also said that Indiana spends less on HIV/AIDS prevention than its three neighboring states. In the last fiscal year, Indiana spent $110,000 on HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, while Ohio allocated $2 million, Michigan spent $3.1 million and Illinois spent $4.5 million, according to the AP/Star. B.J. Isaacson Chaves, executive director of the association, said that although state budget deficits threaten the operation of many programs in the state, access to health insurance must be maintained. "We will be very grateful if we are able to maintain the past levels of funding," Isaacson Chaves said, adding, "We are not looking for all of our long-term agendas. ... We just want to maintain what we have." State Sen. Billie Breaux (D) said she hoped that the rally raised AIDS awareness among legislators. "It's a disease that for far too long has been looked at very simplistically and looked at in disdain," she said, adding, "We can no longer keep our heads in the sand." According to the association, approximately 11,000 people in Indiana are HIV-positive (Smith, AP/Indianapolis Star, 3/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.