Editorials and Commentary News
Living With AIDS Not Getting Easier
September 23, 2002
"Because AIDS isn't on the front page anymore, too many people think the disease is no longer an issue. And here's the horrible irony: Times are tougher than ever for those in our community living with HIV and AIDS.
"...The safety net is straining because people are living longer with HIV/AIDS, due to the success of new drug therapies. ...[This] weakens the ability of state programs and service providers to... provide care. The number of people living with AIDS in King County alone has increased by 30 percent in the past three years. ...Among the many services we provided last year were: 125,000 meals and 29,000 bags of groceries... 7,000 rides to... medical and other appointments, 80,000 safety and prevention messages delivered to men, women and school children, and safe, clean housing found for hundreds of individuals and families. In fact, the number of Lifelong clients on a monthly basis increased by 22 percent while we experienced a 36 percent decrease in private fund raising.
"...About 80 percent to 90 percent of the clients at Lifelong AIDS Alliance are low-income. The majority live on less than $15,000 a year. A recent study by the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University placed Washington state second in the country for the number of people requiring food assistance.
"...Drugs... cost as much as $12,000-$15,000 a year. The state's AIDS Prescription Drug Program... is already in financial crisis. If the state budget does not improve, there is a chance the program may be closed to new enrollment.... The state's low-income... Basic Health Plan, which provides subsidized health care to more than 130,000 people, is in jeopardy....
"The AIDS epidemic is far from over. Every day, two more people in Washington state are infected with HIV, according to the [CDC]. In some risk groups, one of three infected people doesn't even know he or she is HIV-positive. However, state funding for prevention has remained stagnant, forcing agencies to do more with fewer resources.
"All of this paints a grim picture for people living with AIDS in King County. It also makes HIV/AIDS service providers like Lifelong AIDS Alliance and others even more critical.
"...People need help today more than ever -- because AIDS has not gone away."
Chuck Kuehn is executive director of Lifelong AIDS Alliance.
09.19.02; Chuck Kuehn
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.