Funding cuts to area AIDS/HIV support services center

Amarillo, Texas---The fight against aids faces a new challenge as an Amarillo organization prepares to have its federal funding slashed.

The Panhandle Aids Support Services Organization serves residents across all 26 counties in the Panhandle.

They've been stretching their dollar as far as it can go and now news of new cuts is not something the organization is happy to hear about.

"In 1982, we were discovering that people were dying of an unknown virus," Dr. Whit Walker with the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center said.

That virus was HIV---eventually linked to AIDS .

"I'm very pleased with the progress we have made over the last two decades," he said.

Some notable progress includes the discovery of medications meant to slow down the disease.

Research has also been able to silence some of the false stereotypes that were spreading quickly across the country.

"This is not a disease limited to homosexuals," he said.

However, it's a disease that effects hundreds of people across the Panhandle.

"Right now we are taking care of about 260 men, women and children," Executive Director Michael Timcisko said. "PASO is currently taking care of the greatest number of people that we've ever taken care of in our 25 year history."

Now a good portion of their funding used to provide medical and social services to its patients is about to be sliced.

"We're already aware of almost $30,000 is cuts to our funding," Timcisko said. "Funding is always an issue for an agency such as PASO."

For many, this agencies presence may be the only source of treatment for people battling HIV and AIDS.

"We are it," he said. "We are the only type of organization in its kind in the Texas Panhandle."

PASO says a large portion of their funding also comes from the Ryan White Modernization Act which will expire in Oct. 2013 unless re authorized by Congress.