North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal is reporting that State Rep. Larry Brown, who made headlines last October when he referred to gay people as “queers” and “fruit loops” in an email exchange, doesn’t want the government to fund AIDS treatment for gay people “living in perverted lifestyles” because the state “should not spend money to treat adults with HIV or AIDS who ‘caused it by the way they live‘”:
He began by discussing his support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman, which would forestall any efforts to allow same-sex marriage. He went on to say he thinks the government shouldn’t spend money to treat HIV among people “living in perverted lifestyles.”
“I’m not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don’t condone spending taxpayers’ money to help people living in perverted lifestyles,” said Brown, who ran unopposed in the November election to win a fourth term.
Brown wouldn’t say Tuesday what he considers perverted, but did say that adults who get HIV through sexual behavior or drugs would be among those who should not be treated at government expense. Asked how he would feel about the government paying for diseases caused by smoking, Brown said he felt the same as for HIV because smokers “choose to do that on their own.”
The North Carolina Division of Public Health estimates that more than 35,000 people are HIV positive or have AIDS in the state, leading Katherine Foster, the president of AIDS Care Service in Winston-Salem, to call Brown’s remarks “fiscally and socially irresponsible.” “What Representative Brown can’t seem to get through his mind is that HIV disease … affects individuals regardless of age, race and sexual orientation,” Foster said. “Without funding for HIV, the disease is at risk for reaching pandemic levels, just as it has in countries that do not provide government funding for HIV-AIDS.”
From January to July 2010, North Carolina’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program — a national program funded by the federal and state governments and run by the states — stopped enrolling new patients as a result of state budget cuts. The General Assembly appropriated an additional $14 million in funding in July, which now allows the program to accept new applicants above 125% of FPL (by statue, the program usually accepts patients above 300% FPL). ADAP currently serves 6,120 Carolinians with an additional 100 on the waiting list, assistant ADAP head John Peebles told me during a phone interview this afternoon. He said the future appropriation levels were “unknown” since Republicans won control of the General Assembly in November. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to get the expanded $14 million,” he added.
Indeed, North Carolina’s AIDS program is faring better than most. “At least 19 states have taken such steps as capping enrollment, dropping patients, instituting waiting lists, lowering the income ceiling for eligibility, and no longer covering certain drugs or tests.”