Southern AIDS activists and health officials, speaking last week at the close of the two-day Southern AIDS Conference in New Orleans, say that federal AIDS funds to the South are disproportionately low, The [Jacksonville] Florida Times-Union reports. Worse yet, HIV infections are on the rise throughout the South, particularly among women and minorities, making adequate funding a priority for HIV/AIDS service organizations.
"A whole new generation of the South is being infected, and we've got to work harder as Southerners for basic quality care," Evelyn Foust, director of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch for North Carolina's Division of Public Health, told the Times-Union.
A report released at the conference showed that the average federal AIDS spending per each person with AIDS across the nation is $5,625, but the figure falls to just $5,184 per Southern AIDS patient, about 92% of the national average. But federal health officials dismissed the report's claims. "Is there a funding discrepancy? Not that we are aware of," said Kevin Ropp, a spokesman for the Health Resources and Service Administration.