AIDS activists: More HIV specialists needed in the South | News
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- Roughly half of all new AIDS or HIV diagnoses are occurring in the South, but there are not enough HIV specialists to help those patients.
HIV activists have the support of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who is trying to re-direct help towards the problem.
The 1917 Clinic at UAB treats 1,000 HIV and AIDS patients and has seen 150 new ones already this year, part of the growing epidemic that has half of all new AIDS cases being diagnosed in the South.
But the federal dollars to treat the disease and the speciliasts qualified to help aren't following.
"We're getting shortchanged on that funding which makes it difficult for us to provide even basic services that people need," Kathy Hiers of AIDS Alabama said.
Hiers testified before House and Senate panels this week about the need to update the way the federal government hands out AIDS funding so that it is spent where it's needed most, and ways to entice more HIV specialists to come South.
"I think it's time for us to understand that funds have to be re-allocated so we can focus where the threat is the greatest," Sen. Jeff Sessions told FOX6 News.
The nine Southern states have fewer HIV specialists than California or New York by themselves, and Kelly Ross-Davis of the 1917 Clinic says the disease's complexity means that has to change for patients to survive.
"There are a lot of treatments for HIV. We need to find out the right treatment for the right patient, we also need to manage all the other things people come into care with," Davis said.
HIV clinics are working with Sessions to try and fix the federal formula for passing out treatment money. They are also anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's ruling on the healthcare reform law to see how that will impact the future of AIDS care.
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