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North Carolina officials request more AIDS funds

North Carolina officials request more AIDS funds

Heath officials and AIDS advocates in Mecklenburg County, N.C., which includes the city of Charlotte, plan to ask the county's board of supervisors for more funds for HIV programs, particularly those emphasizing HIV prevention, the Charlotte Observer reports. The HIV prevalence rate in the county is double that of the state's level, health officials say. There were 437 new HIV cases reported in the county in 2003, up 43% over 2002 levels. The supervisors last year heard recommendations on how to reduce the county's HIV infection rate, and at that time voiced support of a goal to have no new HIV cases in the county as of 2015. But the Republican-controlled board failed to financially support such HIV-reduction efforts as needle exchange programs; increased prevention outreach to at-risk groups, including gay men and African-Americans; and creating an advisory panel of AIDS experts. The 2004 election ushered in a Democratic majority on the board, which AIDS advocates hope will be more receptive to funding requests for the programs the Republicans turned down. Board chairman Parks Helms said fighting HIV in the county will be a "high priority" for the supervisors.

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