New York Under-Funds Minority-Run AIDS Groups, Report Says
Seventy percent of the money New York state spends "fighting and coping" with HIV/AIDS goes to organizations run by non-Hispanic whites even though more than 80% of state residents affected by the disease are black or Hispanic, according to a report by Housing Works, a "prominent" AIDS service group, the New York Times reports. The group analyzed "dozens" of state contract awards for AIDS prevention and services for HIV-positive individuals, recently amounting to about $100 million a year, and found that 30% of money statewide goes to minority-run groups where non-Hispanic whites comprise "less than half of the board and staff." Housing Works Co-Executive Director Keith Cylar said that minority-run programs are important in HIV/AIDS outreach because "people ... from a community of color know how to reach that community, know how to talk to that community." Leaders of AIDS service groups and state officials say that "politics" is to blame for the financial disparity, not discrimination. Because of the nature of the epidemic, gay men, mostly white, were the first group to be "hard hit" by AIDS and were the first to organize. As a result, those organizations are the "largest, oldest and politically best connected in the field." Since financing for AIDS-related organizations has remained relatively stable, money for minority-run groups could only be increased at the expense of "more established" ones, a "politically untenable" option, the Times reports. The state budget divides qualifying organizations into three categories and sets aside funds for each one, with the largest amount going to 14 "fairly large" groups established in the 1980s. Smaller sums are set aside for the other groups. John Signor, a spokesperson for the state Health Department, said that the report "appears to be a thinly veiled effort by Housing Works to try to generate more money for themselves." Ronald Johnson, associate executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis, agreed that more funding was needed for minority outreach efforts, but said that the solution was not a reallocation of funds but an increase in overall funding. Cylar said that the "point" of the report was not to "simply shift the ethnic makeup of the contractors but to channel more money to small, community-based groups' (Perez-Pena, New York Times, 1/23).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.