AIDS Funding Debate Illustrates ‘Rift’ Between Minority, Gay AIDS Groups in South Florida
A debate over federal AIDS funding has shed light on the widening "rift" between minority and gay AIDS groups in South Florida, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. With a growing proportion of HIV infections occurring among blacks and Hispanics, officials in Palm Beach and Broward counties are shifting federal AIDS funding from "traditional AIDS agencies" that serve primarily gays, such as a food bank in Broward County and the Comprehensive AIDS Program in Palm Beach County, to newer organizations that serve minorities. Greg Scott, head of the Broward County People With AIDS Coalition, "accused" black leaders on the Broward County HIV Health Services Council of homophobia in their allocation of $14.9 million in federal Ryan White funds. The council stated that its priority in allocating funding was to ensure that the ratio of "blacks, Haitians, Hispanics, women, infants, children and youths" served by HIV/AIDS programs "matches the demographics of the local [AIDS] epidemic." Scott responded that this description includes "everyone but gay white men," adding, "I think the minority community has a problem. We're beginning to sense a hostility on the council toward gay white men." Gay advocates are also concerned about the composition of the councils that allocate federal funding. Ryan White rules stipulate that local HIV councils must "reflect the face of the epidemic," and councils have been adding a growing number of minority members "in place of gay men," leading some gay advocates to "feel they no longer have a voice," the Sun-Sentinel reports.
'Apathy' and 'Entitlement'
Tamara Kuryla, a Broward County council member, said, "Money is moving because the epidemic is moving. It's that simple. The need is there in the minority areas. Why are we fighting?" Naomi Parker, chair of the council, noted that some blacks and Hispanics have felt "shut out by gay-run centers" because they cannot access transportation to the facilities or because they "are simply biased against gays." She added that the minority groups that receive funding are targeting an "underserved" population, while gay men "tend to be good at getting services." Parker said that both gays and minorities have contributed to the problem, adding, "There has been some apathy (among black people). There has been a sense of entitlement (among gays). These are not helpful." Many AIDS activists are hoping that the "resentment" between minority and gay AIDS activists will soon end. "This divisiveness is killing all of us. The problem is not enough money from Washington. We have to become united as a community to go after that problem," Margarita Zaramea, a vice president at the Hollywood, Fla.-based group Hispanic Unity, said (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/19).