On World AIDS Day, NM activists say more money is needed for prevention
Friday, December 1, 2023
New Mexico activists are tapping today's World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, to announce they'll ask the State Legislature to provide more money for treatment and prevention.
Equality New Mexico Executive Director Marshall Martinez voiced concern that many primary care providers fail to prescribe treatments known as PrEP and PEP, perhaps worried that they are specialized and complex. His group will ask lawmakers to provide more funding to the Department of Health to initiate educational outreach.
Marshall said the treatments significantly reduce risk and the effects of AIDS: "Since the beginning of the epidemic in the '80s, we've never had as powerful of a preventive tool as we have in PrEP."
According to Martinez, the New Mexico Department of Health reports there are between 3,000 and 4,000 people in the state living with HIV.
Federal data show American Indians and Alaska Natives have over twice the rate of HIV infection as their white counterparts. They also are more likely to die from HIV infection.
Nonetheless, Martinez noted the majority of those taking preventive medications are cisgender, white men. He stressed this demonstrates how important it is for the state to reach Indigenous and immigrant communities, starting with funds to train medical providers.
"And then public messaging in those sort-of non-traditional communities and from non-traditional messengers to say, 'Hey, there's this drug called PrEP - it would prevent HIV - you should ask your doctor about it,'" he explained.
It is estimated that since 1981, more than 40 million people have died from AIDS; in some countries, it is still the leading cause of death. Currently, almost 30 million people are using therapies to inhibit HIV and prevent AIDS.
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