Arkansas: Attention to AIDS Wanes, but Illness Is Still Rampant
June 29, 2004
On Monday in Little Rock, advocates for AIDS support groups expressed concern, in an appearance before a legislative committee, that authorities have become apathetic about HIV/AIDS again. The state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and Jefferson Comprehensive Care Inc. appealed to the joint legislative Minority Health Subcommittee for increased funding and new laws.Adapted from:
Lola Thrower of Arkansas ADAP told lawmakers that 5,893 Arkansans have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and many others have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed. She said typical new AIDS patients are black heterosexual women or bisexual men. Arkansas's population is 19 percent minority, but 43 percent of documented AIDS cases are minorities.
Arkansas ADAP receives $3.1 million annually from the federal government; Thrower said it needs $5.1 million to care for its 460 patients. Legislators said the prospects for more money are not good, especially with the Supreme Court requiring more funding for public schools.
The Bush administration approved $20 million last week for states with the highest increase in AIDS cases, but Arkansas was not among them.
Michelle Smith of Jefferson Comprehensive Care System said her agency's funding through the federal Ryan White CARE Act was inadequate to keep up with growing needs within the community around Pine Bluff. But she was optimistic that new legislation to streamline prevention could help.
Sen. Tracy Steele, (D-Little Rock), chairperson of the subcommittee, said the legislature needs to change its strategy for dealing with many minority health issues. "The key element for all of this is 'go see your doctor and get checked out,'" Steele said. "The more resources we put on that, the more effective we'll be."
06.29.04; David Hammer
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.