Karen Bates who is 51 is infected with the virus that causes AIDS. She tells that she contracted the disease through a heterosexual relationship. Previously AIDS was thought to be a disease affecting only gays and intravenous drug users. She was surprised that she was affected with the disease. Today, Bates is among a growing number of women in the South who live with HIV or AIDS. The disease has now shifted to rural areas and the South, says Gary Puckrein, executive director of the National Minority Health Month Foundation. This NGO group joined with the S.C. Black Caucus to announce a resolution, urging Congress to reauthorize and update the Ryan White Care Act, which expired in September.
This law pays an amount for the people with the virus who lack health insurance and other resources to care of themselves. Statistics show that about 70% of the new cases of HIV and AIDS are in the black community. About 49% are among black women. According top the organization the South saw about a 13 % increase in AIDS cases between 1999 and 2003. Puckrein said South Carolina has the same number of HIV and AIDS cases as Connecticut, but it receives about $1,000 less per patient. The main reason being that if people are encouraged to have more money then some lawmakers fear the disease will spread rapidly.