From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
June 18, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Urges Texas Board of Health to Spend $4.1 Million on AIDS Medications

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today urged members of the Texas Board of Health to use $4.1 million in unexpended funds to pay for AIDS medications for Texans in 1997. In a letter to Board Chair Dr. Walter D. Wilkerson, Jr., Ellis said additional funds for protease inhibitors could help hundreds of Texans who are affected by HIV and AIDS over the next year.

"Real hope has emerged for the treatment of AIDS with the use of protease inhibitors and other medications," Ellis said. "I asked the Board of Health to use the $4.1 million in unexpended funds to expand these treatments for Texans suffering from AIDS."

Ellis said the Department of Health currently provides HIV education, offers diagnosis of individuals with HIV and links patients to health and social service providers for intervention and treatment. By targeting additional funds for AIDS-related services, Ellis said Texas can continue to make strides toward health for HIV-positive individuals.

"When used in combination with other drugs, protease inhibitors can produce significant reductions of HIV in patients' blood," Ellis said. "As a result, we can reduce costly expenses for hospital stays and treatment of infections -- and improve the quality of life and productivity of individuals with HIV."

The Board of Health will vote on the funding matter on Friday, June 20, 1997.