President Donald Trump said Tuesday in his State of the Union he wants half a billion dollars to fund childhood cancer research, and he aims to end, what he calls, an HIV epidemic in America.
He will need Congress to approve the cash, but a pair of Evansville agencies think it’s possible
“A lot of people don’t realize HIV is still here,” said AIDS Resource Group director, Stacey Easley.
HIV and AIDS treatment starts in a lab, somewhere far away, but Easley is hard at work on the ground in Evansville trying to make a difference.
“When you become more aware of yourself, your tendency to make healthier choices increases,” she said.
President Trump told the nation he wants to eliminate HIV by 2030. More than 1 million Americans live with the disease, and Easley said it isn’t going away.
That is why work continues in labs, and with ARG’s food pantry, to give those living with the disease a safety net.
Easley believes it is making a difference. “Through this we are able to reach about 80 families a month,” she said. More money, even if it doesn’t directly impact her organization, can grow awareness.
The President says he wants more help for children, too. He asked congress for $500 million over the next 10 years for pediatric cancer research.
“I think it’s realistic,” said Gilda’s Club program director, Jo Gilreath. “It’s going to require awareness, attention, and support.”
According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4 percent of federal cancer funding goes to childhood research.
Gilda’s Club says their parents have felt disconnected from high-level care.
“When we realize they haven’t been given the same privileges of support through funding and knowledge and access to treatment and treatment options, it kind of makes your blood curdle,” Gilreath said.
She believes more money can feed into new studies, better treatment, and more local access.
Gilreath said there are no pediatric oncologists in the Tri-State, so families often travel to Indianapolis, Memphis, or Cincinnati for cancer treatment.
“I don’t know if the children are the silent victims and don’t have much of a voice?” she questioned.
Finding money for these two causes is easier said than done, but Easley and Gilreath have hope.
“It’s been there before,” Easley said. “I think it can be there again.”