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HIV/AIDS Prevention Advocates Call for Legislators to Expand Medicaid

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 07 Mar 2013 08:34pm | comments
HIV/AIDS prevention advocates held a press conference at the Mississippi State Capitol Thursday, March 07, 2013.

HIV and AIDS prevention advocates are calling on lawmakers to expand the state’s Medicaid program. And as MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the expansion could mean better access to care for those infected with the disease.

While Members of the Mississippi medical community are celebrating the functional cure of a two and a half year old Mississippi child born with the AIDS virus,  Megan Mclemore is asking  why a mother is gave birth to an HIV positive baby.  She is the senior researcher with the world organization Human Rights Watch.

“This is something that’s almost unheard of in the United States and in the developed women to be giving birth to HIV positive babies. There is scientifically no reason for that because during prenatal care they can give the mother drugs that completely can avoid that. And we need to get as many people living with HIV identified and on treatment as quickly as possible .”

Mclemore is in Jackson this week for an AIDS awareness summit. During a press conference at the state capitol yesterday she discussed how expanding Mississippi's Medicaid coverage could have a direct impact on HIV/AIDS.

"Well most of the people living with HIV are on Medicaid yet there are a lot of people who aren't covered by any health insurance. And those people will have expanded screening services for HIV prevention and they'll also be able to access treatment a  lot easier."

Everleen Powell, a Jackson woman who was diagnosed with HIV 11 months ago remains skeptical about the possible AIDS cure.

"You could have killed his immune system before it even kick in good even though he showed up positive when he was born so you're just giving people false hope."

Powell says she hopes the conversation surrounding the possible cure will give a stronger push to research efforts.   

"And the only way to get that is through further testing and then you're gonna have to push Medicaid expansion in order for us to be afford whatever cure or whatever it is to get to this curing point. But right now we're just at a brick wall and we're just trying to break it down."

Mississippi lawmakers are currently in a heated battle over whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover 300-thousand additional Mississippians. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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HIV/AIDS prevention advocates held a press conference at the Mississippi State Capitol Thursday, March 07, 2013.


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