Alabama Senate approves AIDS funding

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)_The Alabama Legislature is taking steps to make sure 200 people receiving AIDS medication from the state aren't cut off on Friday. The Alabama Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would supply one million dollars to keep the health department's AIDS drug assistance program going without any cutbacks. The bill goes to the House of Representatives tomorrow for a final vote.

The health department had planned to end state-funded AIDS medication for 200 low-income people on Friday unless the appropriation passed. Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron called it a life or death matter and he got the Senate to interrupt a filibuster on another bill in order to pass the legislation.

State Senator Hank Erwin voted for the appropriation, but he said the state-funded medicine should be accompanied by a message that the recipients should change their lifestyles. The Shelby County lawmaker said the state "cannot continue to fund a disease that comes from a lifestyle choice."

State Senator Rodger Smitherman said lifestyle choices have nothing to do with some of the people getting AIDS medication from the state. He said some recipients are children born to AIDS-infected mothers.

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