N.Y. AIDS Support Group ‘Drops’ Children from Ryan White-Funded Activities After HIV-Positive Family Members Die
A Long Island support group for children with HIV-infected relatives is unable to continue offering services to its members once their family members have died from the disease, Newsday reports. Thirty children across Long Island were recently "dropped" from the People With AIDS Coalition after the New York Department of Health informed the group that the youth were no longer eligible to participate. The health department, which administers the group's federal funding, said it was complying with federal rules that prohibit children in Ryan White funded support groups from receiving services once their relatives have died of AIDS-related complications. A letter to the coalition from the health department's AIDS office stated, "Once the HIV-infected family member dies, the uninfected children are not eligible for Ryan White funded services. This is a very unfortunate circumstance, but at present, a reality." The coalition, which costs about $94,000 per year to operate, provides children with hot meals, takes them on field trips and gives them a place to socialize and play. Tony Scardace, chair of the coalition, said that the group had "no choice" but to cut the children after the group failed to get additional funding last year. A spokesperson for the Health Resources and Services Administration said that there is a "transition period" before children must leave the group but added that there is the "possibility" that other federal funding sources could help "plug the gap." Advocacy groups, however, criticize the regulations as an "overly strict interpretation of ... bureaucratic federal guidelines," adding that children often need more support after a relative dies from AIDS. Karen Audia, a social worker who volunteers with the coalition's youth program, said, "It doesn't make sense; once a person dies, the need is there more for the child to have support." Scardace said that he "hop[es]" to reinstate the children who were dropped from the group, but added that the organization has had "little luck" obtaining additional funding from corporate donors (Terrazzano, Newsday, 3/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.