NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Dozens of organizations across Tennessee that help treat those with HIV are bracing for the loss of nearly $9 million in federal funds from the CDC when the state rejected the funds in January.

The Tennessee Department of Health’s (TDH) decision was met with shock from organizations tasked with providing vital HIV services across the state, with many left wondering where they go from here.

“We need the funding. This will be catastrophic if we don’t continue to be funded,” Shannon Stanton said.

In 1997, when Stanton walked into Street Works, a Nashville-based HIV/AIDS organization, she never imagined the state would reject federal funding for HIV treatment, the same treatment that saved her life.

“This is a place that has sheltered me, that has provided for me. I was more or less grieving for the people who would need the help that I have been given,” Stanton said.

Stanton has been HIV-positive for more than 26 years. Now, her worry is for the at-risk individuals who don’t have help yet and might not be able to access it easily without proper funding.

“It’s devastating to know that there’s no place for us to receive the help we need because we are stigmatized in other places, and that keeps us from getting the help we need,” Stanton said.

Around 20,000 Tennesseans are living with HIV and the CDC estimates that 14% of residents with HIV are unaware of their status.

Sharon Hurt, Executive Director and CEO of Street Works is worried this decision will add to the already high rates of HIV and AIDS transmission.

“I’m very, very concerned, because I know particularly it is going to disproportionately affect black and brown people, those in the community that are often overlooked and forgotten. I think it is just an attack on humanity when we take away those services and the funding, and especially when the funding has already been designated,” Hurt said.

Hurt said their organization will lose half of its staff and a complete department for prevention if the funding stops.

“I just hate to even think about what it’s going to look like. I’m just so saddened, and I don’t think that the state understands how devastating this could be to our communities. I don’t even know if we understand how devastating that this may be for our communities,” Hurt explained.

The federal funding will run out after May 31.

Hurt said the Department of Health is providing Street Works with temporary funding which will last around three months, but it won’t be enough to keep their organization running the way it has been for the last 26 years.