Commentary & Opinion

United States "Nowhere Near Financially Prepared" to Fight HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says

April 20, 2004

The United States is "nowhere near financially prepared ... to face the challenges of caring for AIDS as a long-term illness," Jean Ann Van Krevelen, executive director of RAIN-Oklahoma, an Oklahoma not-for-profit organization that provides in-home, non-medical support for people living with AIDS, writes in a Daily Oklahoman opinion piece. Although HHS recently announced grants for states under the Ryan White CARE Act, including $6 million for Oklahoma -- which seemed to be "something new for [the] state, a hopeful sign that the federal government was taking into account that HIV infection rates continue to grow" -- the funding is "the same money [the] state receives every year," Van Krevelen says. Oklahoma "received no increase" in the grant amount even though the funds serve only about one-third of the state's HIV-positive population, she says. Oklahoma is "not the exception," according to Van Krevelen, who adds that "only half" of the country's HIV-positive people receive "some form of service funded by this grant each year." In addition, the amount of funding for the federal-state AIDS Drug Assistance Program "falls woefully short of what is needed to maintain even basic medications," she says. According to Van Krevelen, CARE Act funding for fiscal year 2005 likely will be "at the same funding level." Van Krevelen says, "Unless the government and private funding sector both commit to fully addressing this problem, we will continue to struggle to provide basic care," concluding, "This is a sad commentary for a nation as wealthy as ours" (Van Krevelen, Daily Oklahoman, 4/18).

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