AIDS activist says public pressure on lawmakers led to change in budget

Friday, March 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Mobile- An AIDS advocate credited the turnout of about 400 supporters at the Capitol this week for a new budget allocation allowing Alabama to get eight (M) million dollars in federal funding for medication and services.

Mobile AIDS Support Services Director Kathy Hiers said the strong showing at a state House Ways and Means Committee meeting Wednesday helped spur legislators to include a two (M) million dollar allocation for the AIDS programs.

She said the two (M) million is necessary to qualify Alabama for eight million dollars in federal money.

The budget that Gov. Don Siegelman initially proposed for fiscal 2002 asked 525-thousand dollars for AIDS, the same figure as last year.

But Hiers said that under the 1990 Ryan White Act, states with more than one percent of the nation's total AIDS victims must up the ante to 30 percent of what the U.S. government contributes or else receive no funding at all.

She said that meant Alabama faced losing federal dollars because the number of AIDS victims passed the one percent threshold.

Hiers said supporters must still be watchful of legislative proceedings to ensure the allocation is kept in the final budget.

She said there are 33-hundred people in Alabama living with AIDS and more than 800 stand to lose the medication they need to keep them alive if federal dollars are lost.