New York City HIV Budget Cuts, Gay Men React
July 28, 2008
Many gay men in New York City reacted ambivalently to news that the city is cutting HIV/AIDS spending, even as new infections, especially among younger men of color, continue to increase.
The administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it cut only about $1.3 million from the health department's HIV/AIDS services budget of about $116 million for the fiscal year that began July 1. However, the City Council said the cut was actually $10.1 million. It restored $5.8 million and says the result is a cut of about $4.3 million. The mayor required across-the-board city agency cuts to help close budget gaps and pay down debt.
"When it comes to the gay community, they say 'Forget about it, what can we do?'" said Esau Reyes, referring to City Hall as he sat outside the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. "They don't care about us." "I don't think it's the government's fault," Hiram Lopez rebutted. "I believe it's each individual. It's kind of an every-man-for-himself kind of thing."
In the park, Keith Laskey empathized with a city having to manage limited resources. "I want to be educated about AIDS, but I also don't want to break my neck on the subway steps," he said. "I think [Bloomberg] knows what he's doing," said Laskey's friend, Gary Hall.
"I guess I've read that the numbers are on the rise" among young gay minorities, said Lee Fiver. Asked the prospects of successfully lobbying for more money to tackle HIV, Fiver's friend said, "My knee-jerk reaction would be no. I think it's lost its sense of urgency."
"Everyone's getting very careless," said another man. "Honestly, everyone I speak with, they're not afraid of HIV anymore. I'm not hopeful about what's going on." "People just don't care anymore," agreed Joseph Spagner. "Out of sight, out of mind."
Gay City News (New York City)
7.17.2008; Duncan Osborne
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.