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Health

Lack of
prevention funds lets HIV soar in Alabama

Lack of
prevention funds lets HIV soar in Alabama

HIV caseload in Montgomery, Ala., will double in 10 years without boosted prevention spending.

Health officials in Montgomery, Ala., say they have the tools and willpower to slow the spread of HIV in the region but lack the money to launch effective HIV prevention efforts, the Montgomery Advertiser reports. Nearly 1,000 Montgomery County residents are currently HIV-positive, and the rate of new infections is 57 per 100,000 residents each year. At that rate, the county's number of HIV-positive residents will double in less than 10 years.

James Waid, director of Montgomery AIDS Outreach, told the Advertiser that it is possible to slow the spread of HIV in the area but that there are not enough prevention funds available to conduct adequate outreach. His organization has only four HIV prevention educators, who work in 16 state counties.

The state provides only about $300,000 annually for HIV prevention programs, which Jane Cheeks, director of the Alabama Department of Public Health's HIV prevention and control division, says falls far short. "I think we need more money for prevention. We need to stop the infection, rather than treat it," she told the newspaper.

Lawmakers are currently working on a new state budget, but no proposals have been introduced to boost HIV prevention spending. (Advocate.com)

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