Activists press for action as Gov. Sanford and budget board (try to) ignore the ADAP crisis
Stephanie an HIV-positive woman from Orangeburg, SC who's Chair of SC-C2EA, waits to speak at a rally.
The South Carolina ADAP crisis (four preventable deaths since the state started a waiting list last summer that's now up to 324 people in line for AIDS drugs) inspired a full week of action and activism by South Carolinians living with AIDS and their allies.
The results: new news coverage through press, radio and TV, new allies for action including key Latino, LGBT, union and progressive groups, and a first-ever discussion of the crisis with the governing board of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
But there's still no action from SC Governor Mark Sanford or his compadres on the Budget and Control Board - and there's word of at least one more PWA on the ADAP waiting list who this week was moved into the intensive care unit at an SC hospital and is near death.
Sunday at the Governor's Mansion
A broad coalition of activist groups joined together at the Governor's Mansion on Sunday to call on Sanford to make a request for $3 million in emergency funding for ADAP at the scheduled Tuesday meeting of the state Budget and Control Board, whose spokespeople have said would move quickly to consider a request if one were made.
"Poor people living with AIDS who end up on this waiting list are being abandoned to sickness and death," said Stephanie Williams, an HIV-positive woman from Orangeburg, SC who's Chair of SC-C2EA. "These budgeting decisions will hurt South Carolina. We need our neighbors well and participating in life, not wasting away in hospital beds."
The action drew another round of statewide press coverage to the crisis.
Monday on the phones
On Monday, thousands of folks from all over the country called Governor Sanford's office to ask him to act. The phone zap was fueled by activists who had attended NAPWA's Staying Alive conference in New Orleans over the weekend, as well as by participants in several AIDS policy and activist listserves.
The buzz continued all day and into the next, as advocates overheard the Governor's receptionist crisply transferring call after call "related to AIDS drugs."
"Those of us in South Carolina have all been touched and moved by the outpouring of love and support that we've received from people on this issue," said Karen Bates of SC-C2EA. She hopes the support from local, national and international advocates is a sign of reemerging unity after regional divides related to Ryan White reauthorization and funding shortfalls.
Tuesday at the BCB
But all those calls didn't get Sanford to act - he failed to add an ADAP item to the meeting agenda for the Budget and Control Board, and other members didn't step up either.
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