Kanawha-Charleston Health Dept. loses federal funding for HIV te - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha-Charleston Health Dept. loses federal funding for HIV testing

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In 2011, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Board had $30,000 at its disposal for HIV testing.

In 2012, it had $20,000 to use.

And in 2013, the board will receive no federal funding to provide HIV free testing.

After a redirection of national funds, the Departments for West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will see more than $200,000 cut in federal funding to its Division of STD, HIV and Hepatitis, according to a DHHR statement released earlier in the week.

That means the KCHB can't use federal dollars to pay for its HIV testing program and other services, according to its executive director, Dr. Rahul Gupta.

"If it were up to me, I wouldn't cut the services," said Gupta, who mentioned that Kanawha County has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in West Virginia.

According to the DDHR, since the Mountain State is a "low-incidence" state for HIV/AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cut funding over the last two years by $617,541.

Gupta said the KCHB will dip into its coffers to fund these tests for the public, adding that people outside Kanawha County often travel to their clinic for free testing.

He also explained that HIV testing often helps prevent high-risk behavior.