Lee Administration Rejecting CDC HIV Funding

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – A potential decision by the Tennessee state government might make the ability to get treatment for HIV more difficult in our community.

The non-profit Cempa Community Care says they have received word that the state of Tennessee will stop taking CDC grants for HIV treatment and prevention beginning in June.

This funding goes to many non-profits including Cempa.

They say that a loss of $254,000 will hamper their efforts to continue to battle sexually transmitted diseases in our community and across East Tennessee.

Shannon Burger Stephenson, the CEO of Cempa Community Care, said, “The biggest differences and changes could possibly be our site at ETSU and our site on Rossville Boulevard that houses our Syringe Trade and Education Program (STEP) of Tennessee. Those two are going to be significantly impacted by this.  Then some of our outreach events and programs that we have in the community.”

Fourteen employees are expected to be impacted by this loss in funding.

Cempa also says that the STEP program has been successful in finding HIV Positive patients in the community.

Stephenson hopes that the state will reconsider their decision as they realize their community impacts.

She did also state that the state has not directly to the questions Cempa has about this decision.

News 12 reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health who sent us back a letter explaining the state’s decision.

It says in part, “This administration is examining areas where it can decrease its reliance on federal funding and assume increased independence.”

The letter says that the state determined to handle all funding for these services internally.

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