The Republican dominated legislature in South Carolina, which boasts the nation's 8th highest HIV rate, takes drastic measures to balance its budget. The South Carolina House voted Thursday to cut all HIV/AIDS funding from the budget, WIS-TV reports.
The funding issue that could affect thousands of South Carolinians. The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force reports there are more than 14,000 people living in the state who have tested positive for HIV or AIDS. About 3,000 people rely on government funds for medications. Dr. Bambi Gaddist of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force says when state funding began in 2006 [for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program] more than 600 people were on a waiting list for medicine. Four of those people died.
The South Carolina House's extreme action comes only weeks after neighboring North Carolina made cuts in its AIDS drug assistance program (ADAP), which helps buy expensive retrovirals for low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS. North Carolina gay activists and HIV/AIDS service providers are trying to fight those cuts.
New data shows HIV infection rates are rising in the Carolinas, especially in Charlotte-Mecklenburg NC and Columbia SC, which has the 9th highest HIV rate in the nation (pdf) New infections in both North and South Carolina are disproportionately young black gay and bisexual men, a demographic the Centers for Disease Control are is the hardest hit by the HIV epidemic and are seroconverting "at alarming rates" particularly in the \South.