AIDS crisis cannot be ignored

By Todd Cohen

While Americans have lost interest, AIDS remains a national crisis that requires more funding and more effective public policies.

In North Carolina, for example, 18,900 people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 1,700 new cases of HIV have been diagnosed every year since 2001, on average.

This year, after four years of lobbying by AIDS groups, state lawmakers eased rules on eligibility for receiving free HIV medicine from the state.

Now, anyone with annual income of up to $22,000 will be eligible, up from $11,800, making that medicine available to more of the working poor.

But state lawmakers also rejected a push by AIDS groups to increase by $3 million annual spending for AIDS prevention, now $14 million.

AIDS groups also are calling for a state law to let drug addicts exchange dirty needles for clean ones, a move aimed to limit the spread of AIDS among addicts who share needles, and among their sexual partners.

AIDS groups also want Congress to fix the formula for disbursing federal funds for AIDS/HIV medical and supportive services to reflect the fact that the disease now is concentrated in rural America, especially the South.

Addressing the AIDS crisis will require more money and better policies.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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