People Rally at Statehouse to Stop Budget Cuts in HIV/AIDS Funding - DatelineCarolina

SC Statehouse Rally Opposes Cuts in HIV/AIDS Budget

Pat Kelly is an AIDS victim and activist. Pat Kelly is an AIDS victim and activist.

By Lacey Lee

Posted March 18, 2010 9:49 AM

Hundreds of people rallied at the South Carolina Statehouse protesting budget cuts that would eliminate funds for HIV and AIDS victims. 

The money comes from the state's Drug Assistance Program.  The proposed state budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year eliminates that funding and ends the state's HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Protesters say South Carolina ranks first in the nation for HIV and AIDS among heterosexuals and eighth in the nation for new AIDS cases.

Doctor Helmut Albrecht said he thinks it makes more sense, and costs a lot less, to provide prevention rather than care.

"Yes it's expensive, but we're dealing with people's lives," said Jean Elizabeth Smith, who says her mother is an AIDS victim.

The group said it was also important to note that it is not just an issue for homosexuals.  Pat Kelly is a mother of three and expecting her seventh grandchild. She also has AIDS and says she will be affected by the cuts. 

"I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985," said Kelly.

The group wanted to get the point across that HIV and AIDS does not affect certain races or genders, and it has nothing to do with age.

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