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Changes in Ryan White Distribution Causing Funding Shortages for Southern California HIV/AIDS Groups

February 19, 2008

Changes in the distribution of Ryan White Program money are creating funding shortages for Southern California-based AIDS groups, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. According to San Bernardino County, Calif., health officials, about 7,400 people are living with HIV/AIDS in San Bernardino and Riverside counties (McGavin, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/14).

Congress in December 2006 reauthorized Ryan White to allow funding in more regions but less money for support programs -- including meals, housing and legal aid. In addition, Ryan White funding during the past several years has remained at about $2.1 billion annually, but more HIV-positive people are seeking treatment and living longer (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/2/07).

According to the Press-Enterprise, AIDS groups in Southern California have "scrambled" for funding in the past year, as requests for assistance have increased. The Inland AIDS Project received about $711,000 in 2007 from the Ryan White Program, down from about $1 million the previous year. Joy Gould, CEO of IAP, said that funding for food vouchers declined the most, from about $100,000 to less than $40,000. She added, "This last year has been the most difficult year we've ever had." IAP provides food vouchers, transportation, case management and other help to more than 1,300 people living with HIV/AIDS in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Daniel Perez -- a program manager with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which distributes federal funds to about six providers in the region -- said this year's changes to the Ryan White Program are the "most drastic" since the legislation was enacted in 1990. As a result of the changes, 75% of funds must go toward medical, substance abuse and other services, and no more than 25% can be allotted to food vouchers, transportation and case management, Perez added.

David Brinkman, executive director of the Palm Springs, Calif.-based Desert AIDS Project, said the organization "saw a 25% increase in the number of patients in the last 12 months." He added, "We are forced to do more with less [money], and we're forced to go to our private donor community and ask for more. It's a huge strain" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/14).

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