Originally published: May 20, 2010, 10:22 a.m.
Updated: May 20, 2010, 5:18 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina HIV/AIDS advocacy group will protest the state’s cuts to its AIDS drug assistance program (ADAP) next Tuesday, May 25, 9 a.m.-Noon, claiming a recent death of one patient wait-listed and unable to receive vital medications. The group also says there are rumors of other such deaths.

South Carolina legislators made the decision to cut ADAP funding in March, amid concerns of state budgeting shortfalls. Other groups in the state have also protested the state’s decision.

“We appreciate our state’s current financial woes,” Columbia resident Karen Bates, a member of SC-C2EA and a woman living with AIDS, said in a release. “But what we cannot understand is how our state can justify supporting the funding of a golf tournament when people are dying for lack of life-saving medications.”

Bates will join others HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS at the May 27 rally. The event will also include service providers and faith leaders. They’ll ask for emergency funding for the ADAP program. They are hoping more state and federal funding could put a stop to the crisis altogether.

“The first thing we need is for our legislature to provide emergency monies in the state budget for ADAP,” Bates said. “The second thing we need is for Gov. Sanford to approve such a budget and stop this needless death and suffering.”

As of May 13, 92 individuals are on South Carolina’s ADAP waiting list. The state is among nine others with similar waits — North Carolina’s ADAP waiting list has grown to 530 people, the largest in the nation. Clients from North Carolina will join the Columbia rally.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors says more than 1,000 people living with AIDS are without access to their state’s ADAP assistance programs nationwide.

The protest, originally scheduled for May 27 at 6 p.m., was moved earlier to Tuesday, May 25, 9 a.m.-Noon, after organizers were informed of final budget debates starting Tuesday.

For more information about the May 27 rally and SC-C2EA, contact Karen Bates at 803-750-5259 or email scaplwa@aol.com, with the subject line “SC ADAP Rally.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.