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Local and Community News

Virginia: AIDS Office Stumbled in Meeting Needs

June 6, 2003

Norfolk has one of the worst records in the country for using federal money to care for low-income AIDS patients. The city has failed to spend an average of nearly $1 million annually over the past four years from Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act. Norfolk city officials, who oversee the grants for all of Hampton Roads, estimate that as many as 900 local residents who have tested HIV-positive are not receiving care.

The large amount of unused money concerns patient advocates, especially given the city's recent wrangling over AIDS treatment costs with Eastern Virginia Medical School, whose doctors the city has accused of charging too much. A contract dispute has shut down clinics serving nearly 400 AIDS patients for seven weeks.

On May 30, EVMS and Norfolk officials announced they had reached a tentative deal to reopen six of the seven closed clinics. Federal regulators, who must approve the deal, said they could reach a decision in about a week. But previous proposals have fallen through in recent months.

Last year, more than a quarter of the roughly $6 million given to Hampton Roads for uninsured AIDS patients went unused. That amount, which includes unspent money carried over from previous years, is about enough to pay for doctors' visits for a year.

Norfolk ranks near the bottom nationwide for spending all the Title I money available, according to information obtained from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration through the Freedom of Information Act. Only two of 51 U.S. metro areas spent a smaller percentage of they money than Norfolk in the fiscal year ending Feb. 28, 2002. Unspent money is not returned to taxpayers for other purposes, said Kevin Ropp, spokesperson for the federal health agency. Norfolk and other communities are allowed to carry over unused funds from year to year.

Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim acknowledged that he is frustrated that his city has fumbled such an important program. Fraim said the city is considering hiring an outside agency to permanently handle the grant. That would be the third change in administration in five years.

Back to other CDC news for June 6, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
06.01.03; Liz Szabo

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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