HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A major cut in state funding to Planned Parenthood will affect thousands of people in the Houston area who rely on the health care provider for HIV testing. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has been visiting neighborhoods and conducting free HIV testing and other services for 28 years. Those who might not have the means will now have to go into a center for testing and pay.
FOX 26 News has obtained a copy of the letter that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast recently received from the Texas Health Department. It states that their contract for HIV prevention won’t be renewed starting in the new year. But what isn’t stated is a reason why.
“This is yet another politically-motivated attack against Texas women and men and their healthcare access," Planned Parenthood Spokesperson Alejandra Diaz said. "It is already decimated people don't have access to healthcare which is devastating.”
Planned Parenthood says the $600,000 grant helped screen 140,000 people in the Houston area for HIV and from that they helped 1,182 people who tested HIV Positive. When FOX 26 spoke with the Texas Department of State and Health Services, the organization didn’t provide an explanation but did say the state will work with local health departments that offer the same services. But Planned Parenthood says the demand for HIV prevention is too great.
“Planned Parenthood was the largest of this type of grant, so the void that Planned Parenthood will leave will hardly be filled by other providers,” Diaz said.
And while Planned Parenthood might not get an answer for this cut, former Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill agrees that it’s political.
“I'm hopeful our elected officials are saying no to Planned Parenthood," Woodfill said. "That they're sending a clear message that we will not support organizations that traffic in baby body parts, that make a large profit off abortions. I'm hoping they're saying we will not use our taxpayer dollars.”
Planned Parenthood wants people to know they can come into one of the seven centers throughout the Houston area and receive affordable HIV and STD testing.