New Jersey AIDS Activists Worried Federal Treatment Funds Will ‘Dry Up’ as Priorities Shift to Terrorist Attacks
The New Jersey AIDS treatment community is concerned that federal funding will "dry up," as congressional and presidential priorities shift in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Although funding levels are already set for next year, Ryan White CARE Act grant administrators say that the funding amounts will not be sufficient to cover client needs, especially as the number of HIV/AIDS cases is expected to increase. After next year, however, they worry that funding will be cut. Rafael Rodriguez of the New Jersey-based Union County HIV Affected Caucus said, "We live in a changed world now, where things will be totally different than before Sept. 11. We're afraid dollars are going to dwindle away now and HIV becomes secondary, almost goes to the back burner." The Star-Ledger reports that health advocates nationwide have "redoubl[ed]" their lobbying efforts to secure increases in federal funding.
Garden State Concerns
Federal grants from the CARE Act are administered through "Eligible Metropolitan Areas," or EMAs. In New Jersey, Union County is one of five counties in the Newark EMA, which has received Ryan White funds for the past eight years. The Newark EMA receives about $12 million from the fund to distribute to social service agencies in the five-county region to pay for the care and treatment of people with HIV/AIDS. This year, however, is the first time officials ran out of money to cover emergency assistance such as temporary housing subsidies before the end of the year. Next year's grants, set to be distributed in March, will be divided among more EMAs and will need to cover a larger caseload, the Star-Ledger reports. Charles Jones, director of the Union County HIV Consortium, which works with the county to distribute the funds, said, "I'm not expecting this to be an easy trip. Things were difficult for us last year. They're only going to get worse next year." Charlene Mason-Reese, director of health and human services for the City of Elizabeth, N.J., said that the funding situation is "not dire right now," but added, "We do know that the president and Congress are going to have to make tough decisions" (Spoto, Newark Star-Ledger, 10/18).