Pennsylvania: HIV/AIDS Organizations Face Drastic Cuts
April 1, 2010
Given recent and pending state cuts, Philadelphia's AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) sent memos in February warning local service organizations of tighter budgets to come. Pennsylvania recently slashed funding to Philadelphia HIV prevention efforts by $1.7 million for fiscal year 2010. When FY 2011 begins in July, the programs will see a reduction of $2 million.
With only a few months left in FY 2010 and most of that money already distributed, the real pain will be felt this summer, said Kevin Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS. "We're talking about a 42 percent cut here," he said, predicting long-term costs would offset any short-term savings. "This is going to set us back years."
AACO estimates the cuts will equate in FY 2010 to about 120 fewer HIV tests and 460 fewer people able to access prevention services. For FY 2011, the estimate is about 8,000 fewer people testing, 4,000 people unreached by prevention services, and 60 people going without intensive case management.
AIDS service organizations work with many clients who do not have regular health care, so a funding loss could hamper efforts to help these high-risk individuals, said Jane Shull, executive director of Philadelphia FIGHT. "If we fail to do that, because we're crippled in our efforts, people won't be found until they are so sick that it's difficult to help them, and they're more likely to have infected other people," she said.
AIDS service organizations have been organizing for weeks to lobby against the cuts. A group of representatives recently met with members of the state secretary of health's executive staff to review options. "There's just no money," Shull said. "And there's no money because there's no political will to do what you need to do to have the services people need, which is to raise taxes."
Philadelphia Gay News
03.25.2010; Jen Colletta
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