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HIV/AIDS News Digest: March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011

Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:

Washington State Cuts Funding for State's Only Women's HIV/AIDS Service Organization (From BABES Network-YWCA)

While we all know that budget cuts are a country-wide epidemic right now, we also know that crucial social service programs are in danger of losing funding or closing their doors all together. BABES Network-YMCA, the only women-specific HIV/AIDS service organization in the state of Washington, lost all of its state funding due to budget cuts. State funding accounted for 75 percent of all funding for the organization, which helps more than 400 women living with HIV/AIDS.

In a press release, BABES wrote:

Nationally, severe racial, gender, and economic disparities persist in the HIV epidemic. The majority of women testing positive for HIV are Black and Latina. Over 64% of women living with HIV earn less than $10,000 a year, compared with 41% of HIV-positive men. And data continues to show that women suffer worse health outcomes from HIV than do men.

President Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released in July 2010, emphasized the importance of improving access to care and health outcomes for people living with HIV. Providers say this goal cannot be accomplished for women without psychosocial support services.

The state's Department of Health claims that it will hold 20 spaces for BABES clients if an AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list is put in place.

New Petition Wants for All Young People in Tennessee to Receive HIV/AIDS Education (From

A petition, penned by Tennessee Equality Project, is demanding that the state's lawmakers include HIV/AIDS education as part of all high school education programs. Currently, Tennessee state law makes HIV/AIDS education for any high school students optional. The petition highlights that teens in the South are even more at risk for contracting HIV and that having comprehensive sex-ed classes costs the state very little. wrote:

There continue to be many myths and stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS, especially among young people. Abstinence-only sex education programs have played a role in fueling these myths. Young people need comprehensive information and reality based education that accounts for these myths and works to provide sound facts and information. They also need strategies to help them take steps to protect themselves and prevent the further spread of HIV. For educators to continue to ignore the realities of HIV/AIDS is incredibly harmful to our young people.

Lack of HIV/AIDS education could also be a potential public health nightmare for the health care system in Tennessee. If more young people continue to be infected with HIV, treatment and health care costs will soar.

View the petition in its entirety here.

Advocacy Group Gives the U.S. Capital Poor Marks for its HIV/AIDS Efforts (From The Washington Post)

The D.C. Appleseed Center for Law believes that Washington, D.C., is not doing enough for HIV/AIDS. Since 2005, the advocacy group has published an annual report card, and this year the city received a "D" -- the city's first poor grade. Former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's lack of leadership, the city's dwindling needle exchange programs and a decrease in grants are to blame.

The Washington Post reported:

The advocacy group urged [the new mayor Vincent] Gray to take a visible and substantive role in the fight against AIDS. Gray appointed a new 27-member commission on HIV/AIDS two weeks ago and is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday at the group's first meeting. Gray chairs the commission.

A spokesman for Gray said the mayor has made the disease his No. 1 health priority. The commission will focus on the best ways to reduce barriers to treatment and develop policy recommendations for reducing HIV-infection rates, among other issues.

It's particularly troublesome that a city with a 3 percent HIV prevalence rate -- a rate that mirrors other countries in the developing world -- has a low grade in addressing its own epidemic. One can only hope that the city ups its efforts in time for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), which is to be held there.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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