Governor Chris Christie and state Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd announced $19.5 million in state funding today for nonprofits and government agencies to support HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs.
Just over $11 million is earmarked for HIV counseling, testing and education. Another $8.3 million is for medical care and social services, including housing. More than 36,000 people in the state are living with HIV, and nearly 7,000 residents with HIV/AIDS receive medications through the state Health Deparmnet’s AIDS drug distribution program.
The announcement was made at the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick, which is receiving $2.1 million. The following seven Mercer County area nonprofits will receive a combined total of about $2 million:
Henry J. Austin Health Center – 112,468
Lifeties - $138,500
New Horizon Treatment Services – $361,736
New Jersey Association on Correction – $396,737
New Jersey Human Development Corp. $555,777
New Jersey Women and AIDS Network - $256,489
Christie, who met with staff at clients at Hyacinth before holding a press conference, compared support services for people with HIV to his push for drug rehabilitation programs.
“Every life is precious, everyone deserves a second chance, and no one is beyond salvation. The folks I met here shining example of that,” he said.
“An organization like this one provides a vital home to people who have been dealt a devastating blow,” Christie said. “The stigma attached to HIV diagnosis it’ll exists in our society. We have a long way to go. It’s part of what prevents people from getting tested in the first place. HIV, like drug addiction, is treatable, preventable, and it’s a disease.”
Christie joked during the press conference about a Hyacinth client telling him he gave him a warm and fuzzy feeling.
“That’s not something I hear often,” Christie said.