From the Midlands Connection:
The number of people in this state living with HIV and AIDS is on the rise. According to the South Carolina HIV and AIDS crisis task force, more than 14,000 people have the disease. Nearly 25 percent of them rely on government money for medication.
Earlier this week, House lawmakers asked the feds for more than $170 million to fund services for prescription drug programs and the department of disabilities and special needs. However HIV/AIDS was left out of that mix.
"AIDS is not in recession and the funds to fight AIDS should not be in recession either," said Columbia Pastor Andy Sidden.
Hundreds gathered at the State House Wednesday to protest recent cuts to state funded HIV and AIDS services. Earlier this month, South Carolina budget writers slashed the "AIDS Drug Assistance Program's" entire $5.9 million budget.
"Cutting funding for ADAP is like a death sentence for the people who do not have health insurance or can't afford all of their medicines out of pocket," said AIDS activist Jean-Elizabeth Smith.
I was there and was impressed by the numbers who came out in support of the restoration of the funds. To use a tired cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words:
By the way, you will all be happy to know that an amendment has been submitted to restore $2.2 million back into the program. But according to the article, those who gathered at the State House said that until the money is restored, they won't be silenced.
And they shouldn't be either.
Editor's note - the pictures were taken with a Blackberry so I apologize in advance to those not happy with the quality of some of the photos.