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U.S. News

California: Minorities, Housing Must Be Part of AIDS Strategy, White House Told

October 23, 2009

The federal government must address housing, funding, and similar issues in its new national AIDS policy, San Francisco activists recently told President Barack Obama's top AIDS adviser.

"Housing is prevention, housing is care," Supervisor Bevan Dufty told the group of about 150 people at a meeting at the University of California-San Francisco, Mission Bay Conference Center.

Activists echoed Dufty's concern that minorities and transgender people had been "marginalized" in the national debate on AIDS.

Jeff Crowley, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, laid out the administration's three goals in developing a national AIDS strategy: reducing the incidence of HIV infection, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

This summer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated nearly $500 million in state funding, in the process cutting the state Office of AIDS' budget in half by $82.4 million. Crowley acknowledged California's budget shortfall but cautioned that the federal government would not "backfill" the cuts.

After the town hall-style meeting, Dufty, a 2011 mayoral candidate, noted recent developments that could signal the federal government's willingness to negotiate on AIDS policy. One such change addresses medical marijuana, used by persons with AIDS to counteract the symptoms of HIV infection as well as treatment side effects, he said. On Oct. 19, the Justice Department announced it would not vigorously enforce federal laws proscribing the use of medical marijuana in states such as California where it is allowed by state law.

Dufty said the administration's action on medical marijuana encourages him that federal officials may also consider liberal distribution of clean needles, a practice that has been credited with keeping HIV transmission rates down among San Francisco's intravenous drug users.

"I hope that's a sign that we're going to make our decisions based upon science and reality, and not based upon out-of-step mores of times gone by," Dufty said.

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
10.22.2009; Seth Hemmelgarn

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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.
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