Today, September 18, is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. First launched in 2008, the day raises awareness of the growing population of older Americans with HIV/AIDS. According to the CDC, 47 percent of those diagnosed with HIV are 50 and older, and can face increased treatment-related health challenges and elevated risk of AIDS.
Meanwhile, a recent investigation by The Guardian indicated that while Governor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott effectively “blocked $70 million in federal funds available for fighting the state’s HIV crisis” – while at the same time, Florida faced the “highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S.”, and one of the nation’s highest populations with HIV. Florida was also the only U.S. state with an increase in HIV diagnoses during that time.
Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:
“Senator Scott owes an apology to over 120,000 Floridians with HIV – like my stepbrother – for putting politics before their health. He owes an apology to 115,000 Floridians at high risk for HIV for rejecting federal help that could change their lives, including those over 50 who face a higher risk. He owes an apology for blocking tens of millions in funding to fight HIV, while Florida’s HIV epidemic exploded on his watch – with twice as many new diagnoses as San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York City. That’s not incompetence or negligence, that’s ideological warfare against Floridians with HIV and their families. And I certainly hope Governor DeSantis will do better for our state.”
David Poole, former Administrator of the HIV Patient Care Section in the Florida Department of Health from 2003-05, and National Accounts Director for Gilead Sciences from 2005-2013, offered the following statement:
“In the 38 years since HIV first appeared in the U.S., we’ve made enormous strides in bringing highly effective treatments to people living with the disease – and we now have an aging population with HIV we cannot forget. As long as there is no vaccine or cure, resources remain very important. So it’s incredibly disheartening to hear that access to millions of dollars was denied by former Governor Scott by not providing budget authority to spend on available federal HIV funding. I’m heartened by Governor DeSantis’ recent comments about ending the HIV epidemic, am encouraged by Surgeon General Rivkees’ experience with HIV, and am hopeful they will commit to addressing this public health challenge.”