Coalition Calls for Increased Involvement From Southern U.S. Lawmakers in National HIV/AIDS Efforts
National policymakers should keep legislators from the Southern U.S. involved in efforts to address HIV/AIDS during the 111th Congress, the Southern AIDS Coalition said at a recent event during which the group also highlighted the effect of HIV/AIDS on women in the region, CQ HealthBeat reports. "We want to remind our policymakers and legislators ... that the South is hugely impacted by HIV/AIDS, and any national discussion on this topic needs to include the South and the Southern AIDS Coalition," coalition founder Evelyn Foust said, adding, "If we are not at meetings -- that's a problem."
According to Foust, who also serves as the AIDS and STD Director at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. needs a "national AIDS strategy that has consensus from many people who care about this issue." She added that a national strategy should "clearly commi[t] each state and the entire country to doing all we can." The coalition was formed in 2001 to address disparities in federal HIV/AIDS funding in the Southern U.S., specifically in the 2006 Ryan White Program reauthorization. Foust said that the $6.7 million increase in Ryan White funding to the South in 2006 had a large impact on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, adding that the coalition now is focusing on maintaining these grants when the current legislation expires. "A lot of work was done on last reauthorization, and huge progress was made in making sure the dollars followed the epidemic, and we hope to continue to see that flexibility," she said (McCarthy, CQ HealthBeat, 12/9).