HHS Awards $600M in Ryan White Grants For Cities ‘Hardest Hit’ By HIV/AIDSHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Wednesday announced $600 million in grants to cities "hit hardest" by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, according to an HHS release. The 51 grants, released under Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act, will go to help cities offer "essential" primary care and support services to low-income, HIV-positive residents (HHS release, 3/19). Each allocation is based on the estimated number of people living with AIDS in a particular city, with additional money awarded based on the "severity of need," Reuters Health reports. In addition, some of the grant money will go to the Minority AIDS Initiative. The cities receiving the most funding include $103 million for New York City; $40 million for Los Angeles; $34 million for San Francisco; $28 million for Washington, D.C.; $27 million for Miami; and $23 million for Chicago. Thompson said, "These grants help our most affected cities provide the high-quality HIV/AIDS care their residents desperately need, without diverting resources from other areas of their budgets" (Reuters Health, 3/20).
Funding To Los Angeles County Increases
Los Angeles County's portion of federal Ryan White CARE Act funds increased this year, while other major cities such as New York and San Francisco saw their allotments decrease, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although the county's total population of individuals living with HIV/AIDS has increased at a slower rate than in past years, the county was awarded more funds because of "severe need," according to the Times. Gunter Freehill, spokesperson for the county Office of AIDS Policy and Programs, said that Los Angeles has a "persistent problem" of individuals seeking treatment only when health problems have become severe. In addition, the "complexity" of treating HIV-positive people and the high percentage of gay and bisexual men living with HIV/AIDS in the county add to the severity of need. "Eighty-five to 88% of the AIDS cases in the county are among men, which places an additional burden on our health care services," Freehill said, explaining that there are fewer services available to HIV-positive men in the county. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a national HIV/AIDS health care organization, called on county officials to spend less of the money on administrative costs and more on medical care. "Now that they have the award, they need to make sure the money is going to services and not to bureaucratic functions," Clint Trout, AHF associate director of federal government affairs, said. Genevieve Clavreul, commissioner of the county's Commission on HIV Health Services and a "frequent critic" of the Office of AIDS Policy and Programs, expressed "confiden[ce] that the money would be spent appropriately." Clavreul added, "That doesn't mean we don't have to be careful, but people like myself can make a lot of noise if it doesn't go to the right people" (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 3/21).