Hope for those with HIV/AIDS

By Barbara Goodmon

Congress has given North Carolina, along with other southern states, a special holiday gift — passage of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006.

For North Carolina, with the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS population in the South, this means 10 million new dollars flowing into our state. with the promise of more to come.

This new money offers treatment and medications to North Carolinians who have been unable to access care because drugs alone cost $15,000 a year.

This was a year-long, concerted, non-partisan effort of elected officials, state governments, AIDS organizations, businesses, foundations and individuals who would not quit until this new allocation of dollars was put into law.

It shows what people can do when we choose to work together with commitment and determination.

Most especially, our North Carolina senator, Richard Burr, deserves a Plott Hound Award for his tenacity. (The plott hound is our state dog. You can look up what its characteristics are.)

2007 will be good year for North Carolinians living with HIV/AIDS.

Not only did we get the Ryan White dollars, but also the North Carolina Legislature raised the eligibility level for the uninsured to 250 percent of poverty from 125 percent.

Waiting lists and hopelessness have been replaced with service access and hope for a future.

I congratulate the many who worked so hard to make this happen.

It is seldom that we are able to celebrate the successes of those without a voice, but today we can.

May those without a voice continue to experience successes through the advocacy of those with voices.

Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.

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