July 26, 2007
Responding to a series of annual cuts in federal funds, San Francisco will host several community forums to outline a new strategy for confronting AIDS during the next 10 years. The first meeting is tonight.
"We're looking for ways to be more effective with the resources we use," said Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes the historically gay Castro neighborhood.
Federal AIDS funds for San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties have fallen from $43 million in 1999 to $19 million for the programs' fiscal year ending in February. Concurrently, the number of people with HIV in the three counties has jumped by 35 percent, to 20,000, as more people got infected and more infected people lived longer. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) successfully killed an attempt in the House to cut the counties' federal AIDS money by $6 million in the next funding round, but the matter is still before the Senate.
Area AIDS groups may need to merge and streamline to survive, said Steven Tierney, deputy executive director of programs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "Forty-nine agencies in 49 square miles is too many," he said.
Dufty recently warned the San Francisco HIV Health Planning Work Group not to pin its hopes on a political reversal to rescue the agencies.
The HIV Work Group will use a $100,000 appropriation from the Board of Supervisors to develop its new strategy. Tonight's meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Milton Marks Conference Center at the State Building, 455 Golden Gate Ave.