April 19, 2004
"It was shocking when these numbers came out," said Clint Trout, director of federal policy for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This means that services are going to get some serious cuts at a time when the patient population is growing."
When HHS awarded the grants last month, Los Angeles found that it lost $3.3 million (9 percent) in funding -- second only to San Francisco, which lost $4 million. In response, the county is planning to cut administrative costs by 8 percent and services by 3 percent, said Gunther Freehill, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. "It's a real different world," he said. "There's no way we can make up this reduction without cutting some services. We just don't have fat to cut anymore."
The nationwide HIV/AIDS grants of $595 million constituted almost $4 million less than last year. Los Angeles received more than $36.6 million for 2004. Deborah Parham, associate administrator for the HHS HIV/AIDS Bureau, said the overall congressional cuts and an $18.2 million increase for New York City left less money for most other cities. New York got more funding in 2004 because it has the largest estimated number of AIDS patients, and because it lost money in 2003 due to a poor grant application.
More than 40,000 people in the county have HIV/AIDS, according to AIDS Project Los Angeles. And officials estimate about two-thirds of them require public-assisted care.