January 19, 2012
A loss of federal funding has resulted in some costly reshuffling by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH). According to Macon.com, the department is cutting 26 HIV prevention jobs, including 20 from the regional health districts across the state that provide services to about half of the state's 42,000 people living with HIV.
These cuts come after the CDC's decision to refocus its efforts in the 10 areas of the U.S. with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence. Under the realigned funding strategy, the state received $3.7 million less overall, while high-prevalence areas received direct grants. Atlanta's Fulton and DeKalb counties were awarded a $4.5 million grant to bolster their prevention programs.
Dr. Mike Smith of the Mercer University School of Medicine told Macon.com that if prevention programs do not receive an increase in funding, numbers that have currently plateaued will rise in time.
Other local health professionals have expressed concern about so much money going toward the Atlanta area.
Dr. David Harvey, director of the North Central Health District based in Macon, told Macon.com that if HIV prevention is concentrated in Atlanta, "we'll see more HIV cases [in outer areas], or they will be sicker by the time they're identified, which makes it harder to treat."
The cuts will be finalized by the end of January.
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