More Funding Needed to Stem HIV/AIDS Epidemic in New York’s Minority Communities, Opinion Piece Says
HIV/AIDS has had a "disproportionate impact" on minority communities in New York state, Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, the nation's largest minority-run AIDS service organization, writes in an Albany Times Union opinion piece. Kink notes that nine out of 10 new HIV infections in New York City occur in black men, Latinos and Asian-Pacific islanders, but he says that state and city funding has not "kept up with the spread of the epidemic." According to a survey by the state health department's AIDS Institute and the U.S. Census Bureau, 83% of AIDS cases statewide are diagnosed in minorities, but only 29% of discretionary HIV/AIDS funding goes to minority-run groups. That amount is insufficient to successfully battle the epidemic in New York's minority communities, Kink says, adding that "tens of million more [dollars] in new public health investments targeted toward communities of color" are needed. That money should be used to help minority-run community groups carry out education and prevention in the languages of the communities in question, he states. It should also go toward "[m]ore supportive housing" for people with HIV/AIDS to provide a "foundation for improved health," Kink says. In the 1980s, the state and city "provided significant funding for just such an effort targeting gay men who were mostly white," he writes, adding that the effort was largely successful and needs to be emulated in minority communities. Gov. George Pataki (R) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) have both "claimed they're working hard to represent the interests of New York's black and Latino communities," but both have threatened to cut HIV/AIDS funding, Kink notes. In order to follow through on their words, "[b]oth men should immediately declare a public health emergency and pledge $50 million in new funding -- half city, half state -- to pay for expanded HIV/AIDS education, prevention, treatment and service programs in the hardest hit communities," Kink concludes (Kink, Albany Times Union, 7/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.