AIDS funding may rise

A controversial bill directing more HIV/AIDS funding to poor people in rural southern states, including North Carolina, passed the U.S. Senate Dec. 6, The News & Observer reported Dec. 7.

The $2.1 billion bill, now headed for the U.S. House, would raise North Carolina’s federal funding to $32.5 million, an increase of about half, the article said.

So-called Ryan White money, named after a teenage boy who contracted and later died of AIDS, is used to pay for medical care and services for people who have no other way to pay.

Currently, the federal dollars are distributed primarily based on the number of full-blown AIDS cases, as opposed to HIV cases, which are mushrooming in southern rural states.

In North Carolina, the rate of AIDS cases increased by 60 percent from 2000-2004, compared to a national increase of 4 percent, the newspaper said.

Last year, more than 11,000 North Carolinians were served through Ryan White funds, and additional funding likely would be used to hire more nurses and outreach workers for rural parts of the state, the article said.

Senators from the Northeast initially opposed the bill, saying it could decrease funding to their states.

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