Demonstrators oppose Florida decision to cut HIV treatment programs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A nonprofit state contractor that provides what it calls Florida's most effective HIV treatment is protesting the potential loss of its contact, saying the funding is instead being sent to for-profit companies. 

30 people, mostly employees or contractors of Positive Health Care, came to the state Capitol on Tuesday carrying signs bashing Big Pharma. Demonstrators objected to Gov. Rick Scott's decision to give the nonprofit's HIV contract to for-profit companies.

The contract in question, which has been in place since 1999, covers only Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

"(Counties) Which are number one and number two in the country for people living with HIV," said Michael Kahane with Positive Health Care.

Organizers of the demonstration, however, said all of Florida should be concerned.

"If people are falling out of care anywhere in Florida, its going to affect the rest of Florida," Kahane said.

The program being cut, according to organizers, has the highest success rate in the state. Luisa Arce, a registered nurse, contends patients will suffer.

"They will become very ill because because they will not have somebody to coach them and encourage them to go see their provider and to take their meds," Arce said.

The Agency for Health Care administration said providers were selected through a competitive bid process, which was last Friday.

The award is being challenged before an administrative law judge. AHCA said HIV care will now be available in all 67 Florida counties.