Programs to help HIV patients at risk due to reduced funding, expert says

A woman on the front lines of the battle against HIV said at Wednesday’s roundtable discussion on women’s health care issues that HIV sufferers are at particular risk of going without care in today’s economy in which budgets are being cut.

Monique Howard, executive director of the N.J. Women And AIDS network, said that more than 35,000 N.J. residents are HIV positive, and about 35 percent of them are female.

“Women aren’t getting tested,” she said. “The cuts are occurring in prevention dollars.”

She said organizations don’t have the budgets to inform people about basic information such as where to go for help and to be tested.

“Care and treatment dollars are under attack every year,’’ she said.

Her comments came during a panel discussion convened by Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck, into women’s and family health care issues in light of reduced funding in the governor’s budget for such care.

She and other health care experts at the panel said these cutbacks fall particularly hard on lower-income women.

Ann Twomey, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, which represents more than 12,000 nurses and other health care professionals, said they have seen budget reductions lead to nurse midwives and ambulatory care center nurses being laid off.

“The issue for nurses,’’ she said, “is that they have a relationship with these people.” She said a nurse may have only one chance to get a patient to come in for the assessment they need.

Unlike some other kinds of business, it is not a matter of operating more efficiently with less, she said. “You cannot provide care if you don’t have the time to do so,’’ she said.



Programs to help HIV patients at risk due to reduced funding, expert says