The state Health Department will receive a $7.9 million grant for medical services for low-income HIV/AIDS patients, it was announced Friday.
The funds from the Department of Health and Human Services will go to help the White River Rural Health Center Inc. and Jefferson Comprehensive Care System provide primary care, medications, mental health treatment, nutritional services, dental care and substance abuse treatment
The two centers currently provide medical care and transportation services for patients at 16 sites in Arkansas. The Health Department received an additional $500,000 this year to help accommodate an increase in patients.
“These federal funds will help low-income HIV/AIDS patients throughout Arkansas receive crucial medical care,” Sen. Blanche Lincoln said. “It is often difficult for rural patients to access quality medical care, and this grant will help ensure patients can get to treatment centers to receive the care they need.”
“As many as 7,000 babies in the U.S. are born to HIV-infected mothers every year,” Rep. Mike Ross said. “This disease is robbing too many of our young people of their futures and we must do all we can to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. I am pleased to see that this federal investment will support the important work they are doing at Jefferson Comprehensive Care System and the critical role these medical professionals play in our community.”
In 2008, there were 5,457 people living with HIV/AIDS in Arkansas, and the Southwest and Central regions of the state had the highest rates of newly diagnosed cases.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded this grant through its Ryan White Program, which works with cities, states, and local community-based organizations to provide HIV-related services to more than half a million people each year. The program is for those coping with HIV/AIDS who do not have sufficient health care coverage or financial resources to get treatment.