Activists working on behalf of those with HIV and AIDS are asking Mississippi legislators for 2.5 million dollars more in the coming year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the money could provide vital services to those living with the disease.

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Advocates Ask Miss. Legislature for $2.5 Million to Fight HIV/AIDS

By Daniel Cherry | Published 02 Mar 2012 07:16pm | comments

Activists working on behalf of those with HIV and AIDS are asking Mississippi legislators for 2.5 million dollars more in the coming year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the money could provide vital services to those living with the disease.

Mississippi has one of the worst rates of new infections of the HIV virus and some say that problem will only get worse without more funding for prevention and treatment programs. Advocates are asking for an additional 2.5 million dollars from the legislature to receive 5 million in matching funds from the federal government to fight HIV/AIDS in Mississippi. Lakecha Mason says if the money doesn't come, she's worried her treatment will be cut.

"If we don't get the funding, I'm so afraid I'm not going to be able to afford my medication. And it really is scaring me. Without the funding, we're going to get sicker. And that's being real."

Mississippi already has one of the highest rates of AIDS mortality in the nation because half of those who test positive for the disease don't receive treatment. Robin Webb is with an advocacy group called a Brave New Day. He says more access to treatment means more lives saved.

"It hasn't changed, the virus doesn't care that it's 30 years later. What we care about is that we know how to stop the virus from duplicating, morphing and getting worse. We know the science. The science works."

Webb says all the treatments aren't effective if there aren't funds in place to pay for them. Dr. Nicholas Mosca is the state STD/HIV Director for the Department of Health. He the state will either pay a little now, or a lot more down the road.

"I know that they've got to be dealing with a lot of different decisions for a lot of different services in our state, but the more money and resources that we put into treatment, the less likely this disease will continue to spread in our state. People in treatment are not as infectious."

Leaders in the legislature say additional funding isn't likely given the state's shortage of funds.

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