Local and Community News
New York City: AIDS Cuts Fuel Feud
April 30, 2003
While New York City tries to cope with nearly $20 million in AIDS cuts, AIDS community leaders and the city health department are engaged in a rancorous debate over who should control funding for programs that care for HIV/AIDS patients.Adapted from:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg touched off the struggle when he decided to transfer the Mayor's Office on AIDS Policy Coordination and the citywide HIV Planning Council to the Department of Health. The council -- overseen by the mayor's AIDS policy office but independently operating with its own staff -- is made up of 45 AIDS community advocates and determines how more than $100 million in federal AIDS funds are allocated.
Angry council members on Monday wrote: "The move reduces an office that is supposed to aggressively represent the voices of the New York City AIDS community, to an impotent and tongue-tied entity within the health department."
The merger was in response to $600 million in cuts in Bloomberg's executive budget -- including a $5 million cut in HIV prevention programs -- with city officials saying the move would save about $1 million. On Friday, Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said the merger would enhance the city's response to AIDS by allowing for "a more integrated structure for improving HIV and AIDS monitoring, data collection, program planning and coordination." Caught in the middle of the controversy is HIV-positive veteran AIDS activist Frank Oldham Jr., who was named to head the mayor's AIDS policy office just three months ago.
The fight over who will control New York's AIDS money comes just one month after the city lost $14 million -- from $118 million in 2002 to $104 million this year -- in federal Ryan White funds for AIDS care.
Newsday (New York City)
04.28.03; Margaret Ramirez