More than 19 and a half million dollars in state funding is being distributed to 54 community organizations, hospitals and health agencies in Jersey that provide HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment.

AIDS Awareness Red Ribbon (Photodisc, Getty Images)

During a visit to the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick today, Jersey Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said her Department “has programs to help ensure those residents (with HIV) have access to services that will keep them healthy, at home, staying well and helping others for much longer periods of time. Nearly 7 thousand low income individuals with HIV and AIDS get the medications that they need to allow them to cope with the illnesses that they have through the AIDS drug distribution program -it’s one of the most generous programs of its kind in the country, providing a wide range of medications for free.”

She also said “it’s important to bring awareness to this issue, to help make a difference in people’s lives…although we have made great strides in the treatment and the transmission of HIV AIDS over the years, every day more people are infected - currently more than 36 thousand New Jersey residents are living with HIV or AIDS.

The Commissioner, along with Governor Christie, met with several clients of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, an organization that has helped more than 50,000 clients over the course of three decades through prevention, counseling and testing, legal services, and housing assistance.