Shelby County Commission Delays Vote on STD Prevention Funding

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On Monday, the Shelby County Commission delayed a vote to approve $407,000 in federal grants earmarked for HIV prevention services from four separate agencies, including $115,000 in funding designated for Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region’s free condom program.


According to an email sent to PPGMR supporters by CEO Ashley Coffield, the delay of vote is exclusively tied to some commissioner’s objections that any amount of grant money is designated for the women’s health care provider.


“This is what defunding looks like,” Coffield said, referring to the consistent promises from Republican lawmakers to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood. 


Memphis has the highest sexually transmitted disease rates, more than one person out of 100, in the state of Tennessee, according to 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Since the compilation of the CDC data, PPGMR’s free condom program has distributed more than 1.7 million free condoms in the Memphis area in order to combat the number of STD cases.


Coffield’s email minced no words in addressing the possible reasons behind the delay of vote.


“These commissioners don’t care about the epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in our community...they just want to use their positions and power to score cheap political points.”

PPGMR's development director, Amy Lewis, said that this is the first time in the free condom program's history that funding has been potentially jeopardized.

This story will be updated as details emerge. The Memphis Flyer has reached out to Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer for comment.

Update:

Commissioner Heidi Shafer, who during Monday's commissioner's meeting could be heard saying that she would be carefully monitoring the measure to approve $407,000 for HIV comments has not returned The Memphis Flyer's request for clarification.

Commissioner Terry Roland has, to some degree, weighed in on the delay of vote with this Tweet, which has since been deleted from his account.
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