Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund responds to health department findings

The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) this week learned of the Oklahoma State Health Department’s use of restricted federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding to pay for other programs and budget shortfalls.

“We are deeply disturbed by the actions of the Department’s previous leadership,” said Cher Golding, OACF executive director. “We are thankful for the systems in place to protect Ryan White funding and are encouraged by the swift actions to correct this error by Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger.

“However, we hope the federal government doesn’t punish the Oklahomans who rely on Ryan White funding for their medical care due to the mismanagement of the previous leadership. Every 30 hours, another Oklahoman is diagnosed with HIV and any loss of funding for prevention and treatment would cause the number of new transmissions to increase.”

The federal Ryan White CARE Act, passed in 1990, provides essential medical funding for uninsured or underinsured people living with HIV allowing them access to treatment and care regardless of income level.

“State and federal programs cannot meet the need alone,” said Paula Love, OACF president. “The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund responds to the needs of our community across 54 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties by providing grants, advocacy and prevention programs to address the issues surrounding new diagnosis and transmission rates. Generous support from our donors will allow us to continue our efforts and provide assistance to any clients potentially affected by the issues at the Health Department.”

The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, founded in 1991 by Barbara and Jackie Cooper, has awarded more than $12.5 million for HIV education, prevention and care for people living with HIV. One hundred percent of proceeds raised at the annual Red Tie Night gala are granted to direct HIV service providers in Oklahoma.

To find out more about the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund or to make a donation, visit www.okaidscarefund.com.

Copyright The Gayly – November 13, 2017 @ 1:50 p.m.