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South Carolina Cuts ADAP - AIDS activists protest budget proposal
  Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010 6:00 am
The state House cut $50 million from its $5 billion spending plan Wednesday, including the total exclusion of funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, or ADAP.
The Senate will consider the House's proposal on Tuesday. A budget could be approved by Thursday evening.
HIV/AIDS workers and concerned friends and family members of those with HIV/AIDS are calling on "AIDS directors, task force members, faith leaders, health officials, physicians and community citizens" to attend a protest rally at the Statehouse from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, said Bambi Gaddist, chairwoman of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force.
ADAP is a federal-state program that provides AIDS medications under the Ryan White CARE Act to people living with HIV/AIDS nationwide, who are uninsured or underinsured. Kevin Johnson, executive director of the Wateree AIDS Task Force, said Sumter County has 128 persons on the ADAP program, while Clarendon County has 27 and Lee County has 24. In Region 4, which includes the three counties, he said, there are 2,378 persons living with HIV/AIDS.
"The Sumter legislative delegation has been informed about the concerns of person living with HIV/AIDS," Johnson said. "No medication equals more deaths."
Karen Bates of the S.C. Campaign to End AIDS, who is living with HIV herself, said, "The whole world will soon know that our government is letting us die. The ironic thing is that providing prescription medications to poor people living with AIDS actually saves the state money by keeping people well, out of the hospital and able to care for their families.
"Consistently taking medications also means that people with HIV are less infectious, so it prevents the spread of the disease. Money for ADAP provides a huge 'bang for the buck.' HIV/AIDS affects whole communities, and we'll all be out together on Tuesday to pray for an end to it."
Other health care cuts proposed by the House include loss of support for state health insurance programs for low income children, new restrictions on medications funded by Medicaid and elimination of state-funded cancer screenings.
Reach Ivy Moore at (803) 774-1221.
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