HIV infections have risen every year since 2012 in the state.
Florida now leads the nation in new HIV infections, and critics of the state’s governor are blaming a surprising culprit: the old greenback.
Money is the reason why HIV infections have risen in the state to make it the worst in the union, some state lawmakers are claiming: Gov. Rick Scott and Dr. John Armstrong, the top health officer in the state, are not treating it as a crisis and letting it get out of control, they say according to a Miami Herald report.
Scott and Armstrong have slashed personnel over a period of four years in the Department of Health, and now state lawmakers are starting to wonder if that’s the reason why, as HIV infections have risen every year since 2012 while dropping nationwide.
Miami-Dade and Broward led the way in new HIV infections in 2014. Armstrong said Florida is spending a record amount of money — $34 million — on HIV and AIDS prevention this year, and denied that staff reductions were the cause of rising HIV patients. But critics say that Armstrong avoids talking about HIV and AIDS and focuses more on childhood obesity.
Armstrong will be facing a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, where he will undoubtedly face questions about the rising HIV rates and the budget cuts that have gone along with it. He has served as surgeon general and health secretary in Florida since 2012. There were 4,512 new HIV cases in his first year, and every year it has gone up. Last year, they reached 6,240, which would be the highest mark in the state since 2002.
Despite this reality, Scott has continued to make cuts to the state work force, with a quarter of them coming to the Department of Health.