Close to 600 East Texans Will Be the First Victims of the State Budget Crunch - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/28/03 - Tyler

Close to 600 East Texans Will Be the First Victims of the State Budget Crunch

Like most people Maurice Evans starts his day with a cup coffee and the morning paper. But 18 years ago, Maurice's life was not so simple. He found out he was HIV positive.

"When I was diagnosed, I went into straight denial and that was a really dark period in my life. It's so, it's a hard place," says Maurice.

But to look at Maurice today, you'd see he is stronger. But once again he faces another dark period, another hard place. He may be one of the first victims of the state's budget problems.

"Here I am all gung ho. And I'm saying Maurice you can pull yourself up by your boot strings and then another wall comes up," he says.

Maurice wants to work. He wants to make money. But the state legislature may prevent him from doing that because if he makes over 12 thousand a year, they won't pay for his 3000 dollar a month medication. Without it he'll die.

"Many of us have accepted that this is our life to live on social security. That is miserable and that is sad but that is the message being sent," he says and it is a message that frustrates him.

"Definitely there is a stigmatism that's associated with HIV and AIDS. We like to think it has gone away but the reality is that it hasn't. We are no different from people who have cancer or other life threatening diseases," he explains. "It's not about a group of people, it is about Americans. And our government, not to say they don't do wonderful things they do, but empower us don't enable us. Empower us to continue to dream, to continue to pursue life and happiness because that is what America is about. And just because I have a certain disease I shouldn't be denied that."

And Maurice has faith that the legislature won't sentence him to die but give him a chance a living.

"My faith today comes from a different place and I'll keep going and keep speaking out in the hope that someone will hear and that the help will be available when I need it."

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