Boston: Advocates, Patients Fight to Hold the Line on AIDS
March 6, 2003
In Boston Wednesday, hundreds of AIDS advocates and patients took to the Statehouse to lobby for the restoration of $3 million in prevention and treatment funds eliminated by Gov. Mitt Romney in January.Adapted from:
While annual AIDS funding has decreased about 30 percent, from $51.1 million to $35.8 million over the past 15 months, HIV/AIDS cases have increased about 6 percent, according to Project ABLE, a statewide AIDS coalition. These cuts affect prevention, home care, transportation and education, advocates said, resulting in 13,000 fewer HIV tests being given in the state each year.
"This is a public health disaster and even if you're not interested in the lives, in the dignity of the people who are suffering, you've got to be interested in the numbers," said Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge). "We need you here today to remind the legislature that the care of folks who are living with HIV and people who have AIDS is a core service of this commonwealth."
Romney's new public health commissioner, Christine Ferguson, attended Wednesday's rally, which drew cheers from advocates who disagree with her boss's action.
At a rally the previous day, advocates were told to encourage restoration of the funding, even if it means increased taxes. "Your silence equals our death and too many of us have paid the ultimate price already," said Peter Baker, executive director of the Provincetown AIDS Support Group.
By day's end, the lobbying seemed to be having some impact on the administration. "I told them quite honestly that we have had to make some tough choices in this budget, between the delivery of direct services and funds for prevention, but perhaps their case had some merit," Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey said after meeting with advocates.
03.05.03; Jennifer Peter
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.