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Arkansas Awaits Details of Trump's HIV Prevention Program

A new Trump administration program is designed to cut new HIV infections by 75 percent in five years and 90 percent by 2030. (ArkansasRAPPS)
A new Trump administration program is designed to cut new HIV infections by 75 percent in five years and 90 percent by 2030. (ArkansasRAPPS)
March 11, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Public-health advocates in Arkansas are still waiting to hear the details of a recently announced federal initiative aimed at ending new HIV infections in the U.S.

During his State of the Union address in February, President Donald Trump announced a plan designed to cut new infections by 75 percent in five years and 90 percent in 10 years. Arkansas is one of seven states with high rates of the deadly virus where the program will be focused.

Cornelius Mabin, president and CEO at the health education group Arkansas RAPPS, said while the state does have one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the country, they have only heard sketchy details of what exactly the plan entails.

"The plan that the Trump administration is talking about is to really look out into more of the rural parts of Arkansas or the rural parts of the state, where we do have some issues with people finding care, and continuing in care and finding clinicians and facilities out in those areas,” Mabin said.

Arkansas RAPPS is a foundation that operates programs across the state to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. The president's program is aimed at preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS, focusing initially in Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina, as well as 48 "high-burden" counties.

Mabin said the rate of HIV/AIDS in Arkansas falls disproportionately on minority and LGBTQ populations.

"According to our epidemiologist, we have 5,380 individuals who live with HIV here in Arkansas,” he said. “We do know that primarily people of color, blacks, African-American men basically 18-24. We've seen increases and we've concentrated our efforts in that area. "

Mabin said his group already participates in established HIV programs, but his main concern is with how much money the new program will provide and when Arkansas officials will see it.

"We haven't really had adequate time to get all of the details of it, but I understand where they're trying to go,” Mabin said. “But technically, what we've been using here is the National HIV Strategy, which was already done from the Obama administration."

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, the new efforts will focus on four key strategies: Diagnose, Treat, Protect, and Respond.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR