Politics & Government

HIV/AIDS coverage faces S.C. budget ax

When Deadra Lawson-Smith moved to South Carolina for a new job in 2006, her insurance company would not cover her pricey HIV medication because it treated a pre-existing condition.

So Lawson-Smith went without her drugs for about a year, her compromised immune system struggling to fight off colds, the flu and other health threats. She ended the year in the hospital, sick with pneumonia.

Luckily, a change in her insurance coupled with an influx of state cash to South Carolina's AIDS Drug Assistance Program enabled Lawson-Smith, 47, to get back on her medication and regain her health.

But her good luck — and the luck of about 2,000 other South Carolinians living with HIV/AIDS — may not last.

The current version of the state budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which starts July 1, eliminates all money for the Drug Assistance Program, which provides life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs to the state's low-income, uninsured and underinsured residents.

The budget also eliminates all money for the state's HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Without the state funding, matching money from the federal government is also in jeopardy.

The cut would mean the 2,055 people enrolled in the Drug Assistance Program would no longer get help in paying for their medication and could face dire health consequences.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.