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Local impact from HIV/AIDS program budget cuts

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Amarillo, TX - More area residents could be put at higher risk for HIV and AIDS if federal budget cuts take effect.

This could be a setback to the progress area prevention services have been making.

Right now Amarillo's Department of Public Health currently receives over $200,000 in HIV prevention services and over $55,000 in HIV surveillance funding, but that could soon change.

We spoke with an area resident who tells us why these cuts to funding could end up causing her life to be cut short.

"I have a family who would probably like to see me continue living for as long as I possibly can," says an area HIV patient, wishes to remain anonymous.

Funding and assistance this HIV patient has received from Amarillo's Department of Public Health and Managed Care Center in Amarillo has helped make this tough process easier to understand.

"I wanted to find out right away what was wrong and because I did that, they caught it early and I was able to get on medication and the health department thoroughly gave me information and explained to me what it is exactly," says an area HIV patient, wishes to remain anonymous.

Budget cuts could take that all away.

It's not just patients that could suffer from these cuts, the affects could be far reaching.

"Without education, if we do have a higher incidence or prevalence of HIV infection then people are engaging in more risky behavior and we're going to have more cases. It's going to be more expensive to the taxpayer and there will be a lot more AIDs cases in the panhandle diagnosed in the next few years," says Matt Richardson, Amarillo's Department of Public Health.

"The clients need to know ways to protect themselves, ways to protect their partners, their family members and their children; so I think prevention is a big part of that. Without it, ultimately everyone's going to pay," says Isabell Villarreal, Managed Care Center.

A final decision on budget cuts is expected within the next few months but for now, many HIV patients are hoping there are no cuts at all. 

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