RALEIGH, N.C. — The NC HIV & AIDS Advocacy Day was held on March 12 in Raleigh, N.C. where patients, healthcare providers, community leaders, and advocates gathered for HIV Speaks on Jones Street 2019 to raise awareness and educate North Carolina legislators about policies that improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.
The event was hosted by the North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN). North Carolina is among the 10 U.S. states with the highest rates of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses and HIV-related deaths.
“HIV Speaks on Jones Street is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Lee Storrow, executive director of NCAAN. “It’s vital that legislators hear directly from residents living with HIV in our state so that they understand the value of the public health programs that serve our community. We were thrilled to have advocates join as far west as Swain County and from Pitt and Cumberland County down east, and a number of parts of the state in between!”
Advocates gathered in the morning at the North Carolina History Museum at 5 E. Edenton St. for a briefing and training on various issues impacting people living with HIVand AIDS. The Alliance of AIDS Services- Carolinas provided free HIV and hepatitis C testing in the lobby of the museum during the legislative briefing and training.
Following the morning briefing and training, advocates spent the day at the General Assembly meeting with legislators.
During the legislative meetings, advocates urged their legislators to support HIV-related legislative priorities for the year, such as defending the HIV Medication Assistance Program, expanding funding for HIV prevention through PrEP and hepatitis C treatment programs and closing the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid in the state.
Nearly half of people living with HIV in the U.S. reside in the South, while the South also had the highest rates of both new HIV diagnoses and HIV-related deaths in the country. Advocates are hopeful that the conversations started during HIV Speaks on Jones Street 2019 will provide an opportunity for the HIV and AIDS community to play a critical and active role in shaping policy impacting the people living with HIV and AIDS in ther state.