Advocates Call on South Carolina Legislature To Provide $8M for HIV/AIDS Care Services
About 80 HIV/AIDS advocates on Tuesday called on the South Carolina Legislature to allocate $8 million for HIV/AIDS care services for low-income, HIV-positive people in the state, the Columbia State reports. According to members of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force, allocating the funds will help prevent the deaths of HIV-positive people and save the state money. Rep. Joe Neal (D) on Tuesday said that the Legislature should provide more resources to end the 432-person waiting list for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- a federal- and state-funded program that provides HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals -- as well as HIV/AIDS service organizations that provide medical and nonmedical assistance to people living with the disease. According to Mark O'Rourke, former president of the Greenville Medical Society, the South Carolina Medical Association plans to become more involved with efforts aimed at helping HIV-positive people in the state (Columbia State, 2/21). The State on Tuesday also examined how the "influx" of HIV-positive people diagnosed in other states to South Carolina has "put a strain on the state's already overtaxed" ADAP. According to the paper, the state has registered 13,600 HIV-positive residents, but an additional 2,273 HIV-positive people diagnosed in other states have moved to South Carolina. Because they were diagnosed in other states, South Carolina does not receive any money through the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the U.S., for these 2,273 HIV-positive residents, the State reports. "We are trying to meet the needs for (people diagnosed here), yet we cannot turn our back on those that present themselves into this state system who were diagnosed in another state system," Bambi Gaddist, executive director of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, said (Reid, Columbia State, 2/20). South Carolina is scheduled to receive an increase in federal funding for HIV/AIDS treatment programs after the passage of a compromise bill (HR 6143) that reauthorizes the CARE Act. The CARE Act funds will help cover a $3 million budget shortfall in South Carolina's ADAP (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.