Connecticut HIV/AIDS Advocates Lobby Legislature for Continued Funding
About 450 advocates in Connecticut on Wednesday rallied outside the state capitol and then urged state legislators to continue funding HIV/AIDS efforts, saying that the disease is spreading outside high-risk groups and into the general population, the Connecticut Post reports. The rally was led by the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition, which reported that more people are delaying testing and discovering that they are HIV-positive after the disease has progressed to AIDS. Doctors have said that nearly one-fourth -- or 23% -- of newly-diagnosed HIV cases have progressed to AIDS.
Shawn Lang, director of public policy for CARC, said many people "may have been unknowingly infecting other people, but their health has also progressed to the point where it's very difficult to catch up to the disease once it has progressed to the point that you're diagnosed with AIDS." In addition, an increasing number of cases are being transmitted through heterosexual sex, which is a shift from a high number of cases reported among injection drug users and men who have sex with men, the Post reports. There are about 11,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, according to the Post.
HIV/AIDS advocates rallied to highlight the need for government support and funding for treatment programs. Emilio Quilles, an advocate who participated in the rally, said that he wants the state governor to know that if HIV/AIDS funding is reduced, "it will be ... devastating to us, not just New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford, everywhere." State Rep. Patricia Dillon (D) said that HIV/AIDS "is not over," adding, "We have been through worse times than this, and we will get through this together." Kevin Lembo, director of the state Office of Health Care Advocate, said the HIV/AIDS community has support from legislators. He said that several groups have "all come together and worked on it together and put our interests together and not one in front of another" (Dixon, Connecticut Post, 5/6).