Indiana: Rally Held for More Awareness of HIV and AIDS
March 12, 2003
About 200 people held up signs that read, "Hear our voices, see our faces," Tuesday during a rally at the Indiana Statehouse, where they called for more legislative awareness about HIV/AIDS.Adapted from:
The Indianapolis rally was coordinated by the Indiana Primary Health Care Association's Indiana HIV/AIDS Alliance. The association is a statewide, nonprofit organization that promotes community health centers and access to primary care.
Rally participants urged legislators to continue state funding for health initiatives such as access to health insurance and prescription medicine. The association said Indiana ranks poorly compared with three neighboring states in money spent for HIV/AIDS prevention. In the last fiscal year, Indiana allocated $110,000 to prevention efforts, while Ohio spent $2 million, Michigan spent $3.1 million, and Illinois spent $4.5 million, the association said. According to the association, an estimated 11,000 Indianans are living with HIV/AIDS.
B.J. Isaacson Chaves, executive director of the association, said any successful prevention campaign must be built on a partnership between government, public health leaders and community-based organizations. She said access to health insurance must be maintained, but said she realized the financial dilemma the state is in because of the lingering budget deficit. "We will be very grateful if we are able to maintain the past levels of funding," she said. "We are not looking for all of our long-term agendas, because it's not going to happen. There are not the resources. We just want to maintain what we have."
Sen. Billie Breaux, (D-Indianapolis), said she hoped the rally would at least raise awareness about the disease among state lawmakers. "It's a disease that for far too long has been looked at very simplistically and looked at in disdain," she said. "We can no longer keep our heads in the sand."
03.11.03; Mike Smith