About 200 AIDS activists gathered at the Indiana capitol in Indianapolis on Tuesday to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS issues among state lawmakers and to lobby for increased funding for the state's HIV prevention and treatment programs. The activists specifically urged lawmakers to continue funding health initiatives that provide expanded access to health insurance and prescription medications and pointed out to officials that the state spends less on HIV/AIDS prevention than three of its neighboring states. During the last fiscal year, Indiana spent only $110,000 on HIV prevention, while Ohio allocated $2 million, Michigan spent $3.1 million, and Illinois allocated $4.5 million.
Democratic state senator Billie Breaux said she hopes the rally raised AIDS awareness among legislators. "It's a disease that for far too long has been looked at very simplistically and looked at in disdain," she said, adding, "We can no longer keep our heads in the sand." About 11,000 people in Indiana are HIV-positive. The rally was coordinated by the Indiana Primary Health Care Association's Indiana HIV/AIDS Alliance.