HIV/AIDS Activists Protest Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s Decision to Block HIV Funding from AHF

Despite highest HIV & AIDS Rates in the country,  Baton Rouge Mayor Weston Broome denies federal funding to AHF, despite caring for over 30% of Baton Rouge’s HIV/AIDS patients.

Protest follows federal lawsuit filed in April by AHF seeking to overturn the cuts amid several unsuccessful attempts by AHF to meet with Mayor Broome to offer resolution; failure to renew AHF’s Contract also made AHF ineligible to participate locally in the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program.

BATON ROUGE, LA (June 26, 2017) On the eve of National HIV Testing Day (June 27th), a group of AIDS activists, patients, students and medical care providers held a peaceful protest and demonstration in front of Baton Rouge City Hall (222 St. Louis Street) today  to protest recent HIV/AIDS funding cuts maintained by the Mayor’s Office and the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge. 

The advocates protested Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and the City of Baton Rouge for arbitrarily failing to renew a federally-funded contract for crucial local HIV/AIDS medical care and services in Baton Rouge with AHF, a respected HIV medical provider currently caring for over 30% of Baton Rouge’s HIV/AIDS patients. On March 2, 2017 Baton Rouge City officials notified AHF that it would not renew its Ryan White contract for the 2017 – 2018 grant year, an action that also made AHF ineligible to participate locally in the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program, a crucial federal, but locally-administered drug discount program in Baton Rouge. The demonstration follows various outreach efforts to the city by several local residents impacted by the cuts, a federal lawsuit filed by AHF seeking court intervention to overturn the cuts, as well as numerous, unsuccessful attempts by AHF to meet with the Mayor to address the cuts.

In its lawsuit, filed Monday, April 10, 2017 in the United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana,   (Case # 17 cv00229 BAJ-RLB), AHF is seeking Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge through the City of Baton Rouge Division of Human Development and Services through restoration of the contract and AHF’s 340B eligibility. AHF’s lawsuit focuses specifically on the Parish of East Baton Rouge’s arbitrary, capricious—and AHF asserts, illegal—denial of renewal of the contract.

First in the Nation: Background on HIV/AIDS in Baton Rouge, the Ryan White Program

In the most recent CDC HIV Surveillance Report (Vol. 27), Louisiana ranked 2nd in the nation for HIV case rates (24.2 per 100,000 population). The Baton Rouge MSA ranked 2nd in the nation for HIV case rates (32.0 and 31.9 per 100,000, respectively), among the large metropolitan areas in the nation. 

Throughout the state, the Baton Rouge region had the 2nd highest number and 2nd highest rate of new HIV diagnoses (following New Orleans ranking highest).

In Baton Rouge, AHF operates the following two AHF Healthcare Center locations: 

1) Baton Rouge Healthcare Center, 8281 Goodwood Boulevard, Suite D, Baton Rouge, LA  70808; and

2) Baton Rouge Azmeh Clinic and Pharmacy, 4890 Bluebonnet Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA  70809.

On National HIV Testing Day (Tuesday, June 27th) AHF will work with local community partners and continue its impactful work in Baton Rouge, providing free, rapid, 1-minute HIV testing and proactively getting those who test positive linked to care.

VIEW ADDITIONAL PHOTOS FROM THE PROTEST BY CLICKING ON THE IMAGE BELOW: 

Baton Rouge Clinic Defunding Protest (6/26/17)