Local News

As AIDS Epidemic Explodes, Feds Find Money for Patient Housing

Posted November 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The HIV and AIDS epidemic may be about to explode through Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. Right now sub-Saharan Africa has the most severe risk. The World Bank is recommending that governments act as quickly as possible with intensive prevention efforts, especially among people who have numerous sex partners or inject drugs using unsterilized needles.

AIDS is a public health issue that impacts the taxpayers. Some government leaders say the disease often throws hard-working Americans into hard times.

Bill Brett of the AIDS Service Agency (ASA) says it can be devastating economically.

To help North Carolina deal with the problem, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved grants to help aids patients find housing through a program called Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).

Arthur Okrent of the AIDS Care Branch of the NC Department of Public Health says the program helps people pay for housing.

The money will also be used to hire substance abuse counselors to help stop the spread of aids through drug abuse. Brett says he is concerned that recent state cuts in funding for AIDS treatment will hurt patients more than the housing assistance will help them.

Okrent says he agrees with Brett.

Officials at both agencies agree that as more people become infected with HIV and AIDS, more will need to be done to prevent those in greatest need from being forced into homelessness.

Photographer:Lori Foushee