Texas: AIDS Services Feel Cuts
August 9, 2006
In the Dallas area, HIV social service organizations supported by federal Ryan White money are increasingly being sidelined as local and federal governments shift priority to HIV medical treatment. Local AIDS service officials believe the cuts could mean their clients -- increasingly minority and female -- could get sicker and be left without child support, nutritional programs or transportation to medical appointments.
In Congress, a proposed reauthorization of Ryan White would require that 75 percent of funds go to medical services. Administered locally by Dallas County, Ryan White funds have an increased medical care emphasis: from 62 percent last year to 77 percent this year.
Bryan's House, a local agency providing services to about 800 kids a year affected by HIV/AIDS, lost $70,000 in Ryan White funding for the fiscal year starting in July. The nonprofit AIDS Interfaith Network recently lost $260,000 for services including adult day care, for which hours have been cut.
Cuts of $25,000 and $44,600 to, respectively, AIDS Services of Dallas and Dallas Legal Hospice mean legal and food services will have to be reduced if not supported by private donations, said officials. The legal services agency expects to lose all its federal funding eventually, said Roger Wedell, executive director.
Parkland Memorial Hospital, which operates clinics serving 5,000 HIV/AIDS patients, received $571,161 more than it did the previous year, said Sylvia Moreno, its director of HIV services. That still does not cover PMH's expenses, with AIDS drugs costing more than $13,000 per patient annually, she added. "This is a huge expense, and it's mostly uncovered" for PMH's mostly uninsured patients, Moreno said.
The shift toward treatment is needed because thousands of US HIV/AIDS patients still are not receiving medical care, said Michael Weinstein, president of Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "The response in the '80s with organizations springing up to care for people was very heroic and useful," he said. "On the other hand, we now have the tools to treat AIDS as we would any other illness."
Dallas Morning News
08.07.2006; Kim Horner