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November 16, 2009

Activists to Call on White House to Increase Southern AIDS Spending

Southern activists and health care providers plan to urge the Obama Administration to allocate more federal and state funding to Southern states, The Associated Press reports. The advocates will make their case Monday, November 16, to Jeffrey Crowley, the director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Crowley will be in Jackson, Mississippi, the latest city to host of a series of nationwide town hall–style forums about HIV/AIDS. 

President Barack Obama signed the $2.2 billion Ryan White HIV/AIDS extension act last month, which will continue funding for rural areas, but activists said it’s not enough to keep up with the new cases. Debbie Konkle-Parker, a Jackson nurse practitioner, said that while the act appropriated HIV/AIDS funding to Southern states when it was last reauthorized in 2006, funding was not at the same level as large metropolitan cities.

“The inequities were pretty huge,” she said. “People were spending [Ryan White] money in New York City to do journal writing conferences, and in Mississippi, we couldn’t even get people to the clinics.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 percent of new HIV cases in 2007 were in the South. However, 25 percent of new cases that year were in the Northeast and 17 percent in the West—two regions that have received the bulk of federal HIV/AIDS funding in recent years.

Some southern states, such as Kentucky, have been forced to cut funding for HIV/AIDS programs. The state had been contributing $250,000 annually before 2007. Now, according to the article, the state has almost no funding set aside for its AIDS drug assistance program (ADAP). Kentucky’s ADAP currently serves 1,277 low-income HIV-positive people, with 100 more on a waiting list—the longest such waiting list in the United States.

Search: South, Office of National AIDS Policy, ONAP, national AIDS strategy, HIV/AIDS Community Discussions, Jackson, Mississippi, Obama, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Crowley

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