Chicago Groups Send Letter to HHS Secretary Thompson Urging Support of Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago on Wednesday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson urging him to support the targeted distribution of federal HIV/AIDS funding under the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative. The MHAI, created by the Congressional Black Caucus and supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Caucus, seeks prioritized funding for minority organizations that work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The letter, cosigned by the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Community Response, Inc., Chicago Women's AIDS Project, the HIV Coalition, National Association of People with AIDS, the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Roger Baldwin Foundation-ACLU, the South Side Help Center and the SSI Coalition for a Responsible Safety Net, states that efforts are effective when they are led, staffed and supported by members of the affected community and notes that "to do otherwise is to disregard what is known about effective strategies against HIV/AIDS." According to the letter, to overcome the "stigma and shame" associated with the disease, sexual practices and substance use, "it is of paramount importance that people see men and women who are identifiably members of their own communities." The letter also points out that the targeted funding "is entirely constitutional," as the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that the federal government is "justified in employing race-based criteria where they have a compelling interest in doing so, and where they narrowly tailor their efforts to serve their interest." The groups say that the "massively disproportionate impact" of HIV/AIDS on minorities confirms the government's "compelling interest." In addition, the letter says, the MHAI is narrowly tailored to serve the government's interest as it does not mandate that all federal HIV/AIDS funding be targeted to minority groups, but only requires that "certain funds" provided through the initiative be allocated to those groups. The letter concludes by asking Thompson to do "everything in your power to facilitate rules that embody the intent of the MHAI" (AIDS Foundation of Chicago letter, 10/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.