California: Hanford Clinic May End HIV Treatment
September 29, 2009
The HIV treatment program at the Hanford public health clinic is expected to shut down by the end of October. Kings County Department of Public Health Director Keith Winkler said the program's closure is not certain, but he acknowledged that its state funding had been cut and the county could save $89,000 a year by ending it.
If the program is terminated, its approximately 40 patients will have to go elsewhere, probably to Fresno, for treatment. Fresno's Community Regional Medical Center has operated an HIV/AIDS program since 1989 and treats all patients, said Mary Lisa Russell, a spokesperson.
Dr. Annie Wong, the HIV specialist who runs the Hanford treatment effort, said she has received a letter notifying her that her contract will end on Oct. 31. Wong said many of her patients are uninsured but all are responding to treatment, and she worries they may fall out of care if the program is shut down. Many lack the means of traveling to Fresno, she said.
The California Health and Safety Code requires that a public forum, known as a "Beilenson hearing," be held regarding proposed public health service reductions. Winkler said at present no date has been set for the hearing.
09.28.2009; Lewis Griswold
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.