HomeFront to Share in $19.5 Million State Aid for AIDS/HIV Treatment
The governor held a press conference at the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick to announce new state funding to be made available for AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention.
Gov. Chris Christie and state Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd held a press conference Tuesday morning at the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick to announce $19.5 million in state funding that will benefit 54 HIV/AIDS treatment organizations in New Jersey.
Lawrence Township-based HomeFront will receive $106,967 as part of the funding.
According to a press release from the governor's office, $11.2 million will be used specifically for HIV counseling, testing and education, while the other $8.3 million is slated for medical care and social services.
O'Dowd said the funding follows an additional $8 million in federal funding that was made available earlier this year to New Jersey for AIDS and HIV treatment.
More than 36,000 New Jersey residents live with HIV/AIDS, O'Dowd said.
Of those people living with HIV/AIDS, 7,000 of those low-income residents receive medications through a state drug distribution program, she said.
During the press conference, Christie stressed that progress in treatment and support of people living with HIV/AIDS has turned it from a death sentence to a "chronic disease."
However, the stigma of an HIV/AIDS diagnosis still persists, which deters people from being tested, he said.
"It only becomes that (a chronic disease) if you're treating it," he said.
Christie said 140 HIV/AIDS testing centers exist in New Jersey.
The Hyacinth AIDS Foundation - the largest and oldest HIV/AIDS treatment organization in the state, according to Christie's office - received $2.1 million of the grant money, the largest allotment to be made available through the new wave of funding, Christie said.
Organizations like the Hyacinth Aids Foundation "(provide) a really vital home for people who have been dealt a devastating blow," he said.
Kathy Ahearn-O'Brien, executive director of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, said the support of the state has helped further HIV/AIDS treatment, but more work needs to be done.
"Treatment advances have provided the opportunity to see the end of AIDS in our lifetime," she said in a prepared statement. "But this can be achieved only if we continue the very strong relationships that exist between medical providers and community based organizations."