North Carolina: HIV/AIDS Continues Assault on Blacks; Advocates Want Better Access to Modern Treatments
February 13, 2003
North Carolina's black residents represent the bulk of the state's HIV/AIDS cases but are least likely to receive life-prolonging drugs, according to Evelyn Foust, head of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. "The [federal] AIDS Drug Assistance Program is still closed to [new] enrollees," Foust told those gathered at N.C. State University last Friday for the third annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Of the 800 people through October 2002 who, because of lack of funding, waited to get free medications through ADAP, 69 percent were black.Adapted from:
North Carolina has the nation's strictest ADAP eligibility requirements to receive free HIV/AIDS medications, say advocates. People whose incomes exceed 125 percent of federal poverty level -- $18,100 a year for a family of four -- cannot participate. Most states allow residents making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to join, and several set the limit at 300 percent, Foust said. It would cost $13.7 million from state or federal sources to open ADAP to those earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, Foust said. North Carolina has faced budget shortfalls over the past two years, ranging from $850 million to $1.6 billion.
In 2002, the state reported 1,692 new HIV patients, 68.9 percent of whom are black, said Del Williams, epidemiology manager for DHHS. About 22 percent of North Carolina's population is black. The rate of HIV/AIDS among black North Carolinians in 2001 was 66 cases per 100,000 people, higher than the national average. Last year, Durham County reported 118 new HIV/AIDS cases; Mecklenburg County reported 306 new cases; Wake County reported 162 new cases; and Guilford County reported 148 new cases. Last year was also the first time since 1994 that North Carolina reported more than 1,000 cases of AIDS. Despite HIV/AIDS' disproportionate impact on black people, Barbara Pullen-Smith, director of the N.C. Office of Minority Health/Health Disparities, said she still must justify why more money is needed for prevention and testing in black communities.
Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)
02.09.03; Angela D. Frost