The City of Baton Rouge has been hit with a lawsuit. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is suing the city and East Baton Rouge Parish, after officials claim the Mayor’s office defunded a crucial program that helps HIV/AIDS patients.
“For AHF to close the clinic and to leave the population, it would be a big, big, big blow,” said Dr. Waref Azmeh, the medical director of the AHF clinics in Baton Rouge.
Azmeh said the two Baton Rouge clinics serve 30 percent of the HIV/AIDS population, totaling around 1,300 people.
“To be defunded and be pushed into the bureaucracy, it’s going to impact our population that are mostly in need of our services,” said Dr. Azmeh.
According to the foundation, last month, the Mayor’s Office decided not to renew the Ryan White contract for 2017 to 2018. Dr. Azmeh said this decision would cut the clinics off from giving under-served populations live-saving treatment and medications.
“The decision of the city to defund us because of the inability to provide that detail of the 340B program is, in the eyes of the AHF, illegal,” said Dr. Azmeh.
However, Dr. Azmeh said this is not an attack against the Mayor’s Office, but a plea.
“Moving forward is to fight it and try to explain our case to our new mayor to look at the details of the case. Hopefully it will be solved by her wisdom,” concluded Dr. Azmeh.
Advocates plan to protest Thursday morning in front of City Hall, hoping the mayor hears their plea.
Local33/Fox44 did reach out to the mayor’s office, but as of right now, we have not heard back.
If you would like to see the full details on the lawsuit, you can click here.