Gov. Parris N. Glendening pledged yesterday to provide the money to cover any additional costs to the state's AIDS treatment programs resulting from development of the next generation of drugs to fight the disease.
The governor's promise came during a Sunday afternoon visit to a Baltimore health clinic that specializes in the treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
"That's what compassion is," Glendening said. "That's what a civil society is all about."
The governor's pledge follows his decision this year to provide an extra $500,000 to cover the unanticipated costs of an earlier generation of improved AIDS drugs. Those medications, which have dramatically cut the mortality rate of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, strained the state's budget for AIDS treatment because the new drugs were significantly more expensive than first-generation AIDS drugs such as AZT.
Glendening spoke before a supportive gathering of AIDS advocates, gay and lesbian activists and others at the 20th anniversary celebration of Chase-Brexton Health Services Inc., a community clinic in the 1000 block of Cathedral St.
The governor, who is locked in a tough re-election battle with Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, told the clinic's supporters that his policies on AIDs would be guided by "common sense and compassion." He cited Baltimore's controversial needle-exchange program for drug abusers as an example of his administration's AIDS initiatives.
Glendening, who told the group that three close friends and one of his brothers had died of AIDS, also promised to fight discrimination against people who are infected with HIV.
"It's so bizarre and unfair. We would not discriminate against a person who has cancer," he said.
David H. Shippee, the clinic's executive director, said Glendening was the first U.S. governor to commit to covering the cost of new AIDS drugs.
"It was a big step for state government," said Shippee.
Anne Hubbard, a spokeswoman for Sauerbrey's campaign, said she saw no conflict between the governor's pledge and her candidate's position on AIDS issues.
"It's not something she would automatically reject," said Hubbard.
She said Sauerbrey supports full funding of the Maryland Drug Assistance Program, which helps cover the costs of AIDS treatment for patients who can't afford it.
Pub Date: 9/28/98