There are more than a million people living with HIV in the United States. Many of these people are either undiagnosed, not linked to care, not on the appropriate medication, or slipping through the cracks by another means. The Affordable Care Act offers assistance in areas of HIV testing and care but there remains to be many uncertainties about how the law will affect individuals in South Carolina.
Considering that our state has the 8th highest rate of AIDS cases in the nation, you would think that this is an issue that remains at the top of the list of concerns for decision makers. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t feel this way. Medicaid covers almost half of the people receiving HIV care. The Affordable Care Act permits each state to determine whether or not they will expand Medicaid without having existing federal program funds withheld if they do not expand. South Carolina is one of seven states that have explicitly stated that they will make no effort to expand Medicaid. With an opportunity for the federal government to finance expansion of care, how is it that we can disregard the health and immediate needs of the people in our state?
If our state continues on this path of ignorance and negligence we will continue to have people falling through the cracks. HIV cases that could be prevented will continue to occur because no one is being treated or counseled on prevention methods. Those that are undiagnosed will not venture to the doctor knowing that they run the risk of being turned around due to a lack of insurance. Our emergency rooms will continue to bear the burden of those lacking adequate health insurance. Just within the past 12 months, South Carolina had a list of HIV positive individuals waiting to receive proper medications. The health of our state is being put on hold for the political gain of individuals. It’s time that we start looking at the people of South Carolina as real people and not political pawns.