Washington, D.C.: Williams Vows to Have Hand in AIDS Reform
August 11, 2005
In reaction to a report critical of the district's response to HIV/AIDS, Washington Mayor Anthony Williams (D) yesterday pledged his personal involvement in the fight. Williams announced he will not only form a task force to push improvements, as recommended, but he will also chair it.
"We spend a lot of money on AIDS and are not getting the mileage we should," Williams said in endorsing the findings of the study, which was conducted by the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. The report found the city's efforts badly coordinated, understaffed and lacking a focus on teens and others at risk.
Williams rejected, however, the study's suggestion that the city create an outside commission to reform its AIDS efforts.
Gregg Pane, D.C. health director, also endorsed most of the findings and said his department is already working to correct the problems. Emphasis will be placed on filling vacant jobs, addressing spending problems, developing a state health plan, and increasing involvement with the community. "We know what needs to be done," Pane said. "We also need a closer bond with community leaders." In addition, Pane promised an end to the city's chronic lateness in paying providers, such as the Whitman-Walker Clinic.
"Now is really where the hard work starts," said J. Channing Wickham, executive director of the Washington AIDS Partnership, which requested the study and which supports D.C. area AIDS nonprofits. The partnership will fund D.C. Appleseed to enable it to monitor the city's progress at implementing the report's suggestions, he said.
08.11.2005; Eric M. Weiss; Theola S. Labbe
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