RALEIGH, N.C. — Over 100 HIV/AIDS supporters from 32 North Carolina towns will show their support for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs at HIV/AIDS Advocacy Day this Wednesday.
The event is organized by the North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN) and the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC). The event brings together people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and their loved ones, medical practitioners and service providers, as well as other North Carolinians who share a commitment to protecting HIV/AIDS programs and promoting new policies to prevent new HIV infections.
Organizers say their top priority this year is maintaining funding for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides life-saving medications to low-income HIV-positive people.
“ADAP is a highly cost-effective public health program,” Lisa Hazirjian, NCAAN spokesperson, said in a release. “Right now ADAP provides access to life-saving medications to 6591 North Carolinians from across the state. Continuing to provide early and uninterrupted access to treatment for everyone who qualifies for ADAP is the key to keeping people healthy and reducing costly hospitalizations. Plus, the risk of new transmission of HIV is greatly reduced when people have access to these medications – so there’s a huge prevention benefit to ADAP, one that’s too frequently overlooked.”
In 2010, the ADAP program’s funding and enrollment was capped with new enrollees placed on a waiting list that soon grew to become the nation’s longest. The program was given $14 million in funding by the legislature last year, though eligibility was lowered to those persons at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty line.
The groups will also be pushing for treatment and prevention. They say prevention is a “core goal” of their programs. NCHRC is also focused on educating legislators about the reasons to decriminalize syringe use.
“NCHRC is advocating for syringe decriminalization to stop needlesticks to our public servants,” NCHRC spokesperson Robert Childs said in a release. “Currently one-third of law enforcement in North Carolina get a needlestick at some point in their career, and 28% get more than one. This can be reduced by 66% with syringe decriminalization.”
The advocacy day event will include a press conference with legislators and participants at 11 a.m. in the Press Room of the North Carolina General Assembly Legislative Building, 16 W. Jones St.
The North Carolina AIDS Action Network is a statewide advocacy organization fighting for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, their loved ones, and people at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. Learn more at ncaan.org.
The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for law enforcement and those made vulnerable by drug use, sex work, overdose, immigration status, gender, STIs, HIV and hepatitis. Learn more at nchrc.net.
— compiled from release