Mecklenburg County, N.C., HIV/AIDS Advocates Request More Funding, Better Focus on Local Epidemic
February 2, 2005
HIV/AIDS advocates in Mecklenburg County, N.C., plan to ask the Board of County Commissioners to provide increased funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, advocate for more "attention" to the epidemic in the county and place a "stronger focus" on prevention efforts, the Charlotte Observer reports. The board last year heard recommendations on how to reduce the county's rising HIV prevalence rate, which is twice that of the state as a whole, and adopted the goal of no new HIV/AIDS cases by 2015, according to the Observer. However, the Republican-controlled, nine-member board "backed away" from the task force's "more controversial" recommendations, including creating a needle-exchange program -- where injection drug users could exchange used syringes for clean ones in an attempt to prevent HIV infection -- increasing outreach to "high-risk" groups and creating an advisory group of HIV/AIDS experts, according to the Observer. The commissioners provided about half of the $650,000 the task force recommended to hire six new health workers. The task force had recommended hiring 12 new workers. "The county commission, which operates as a board of health, is looking at this more as a political issue than as a medical emergency," Eloise Hicks, a task force member and director of the Regional HIV/AIDS Consortium -- which coordinates efforts by agencies in 13 counties -- said. The commissioners in 2005 "face tough budget choices," but new board Chair Parks Helms (D) said fighting HIV/AIDS will be a "high priority" of the now majority Democratic board of commissioners, the Observer reports. Mecklenburg County in 2002 had 437 new HIV cases -- a 43% increase from 2002 -- and 344 new cases in 2004 (Levine, Charlotte Observer, 2/1).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.