HIV-positive Florida woman gets care from Navy
December 21, 2007
An HIV-positive woman whose infection is linked to the U.S. Navy has prevailed in her two-year battle to have the military cover her medical expenses.
Richelle Starnes got the news in a personal call from the surgeon general of the Navy Wednesday night.
"I just broke down and started crying. This has been very stressful for me and for my family, but there have been a lot of people who have made me continue to fight for what I was promised," Starnes said Thursday.
Starnes, 27, was born HIV positive after her mother contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. A Navy doctor missed signs Starnes' mother was having complications during her pregnancy, and she was later rushed to a non-Navy hospital, where she required the blood transfusion. Starnes was born later.
Starnes had previously received a Navy designation that allowed her to get treatment for HIV. Recently, however, the Navy told her it would no longer pay for any inpatient hospital care she needs related to her condition or her medication, which she takes multiple times a day.
The Navy changed its stance after pressure from members of
Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson, said staffers from the senators' office had been involved in the case from the beginning.
"We appealed through the proper channels and got rejected twice. Bill himself got involved last month," he said.
The medications cost Starnes $1,700 through her husband's insurance, they would cost $4,500 if the couple did not have insurance. The couple has a 17-month old son.