Texas Reapportions Federal HIV Prevention Funding To Target ‘At-Risk’ Populations
The Texas Department of Health has adjusted how it distributes federal money for HIV prevention programs to "reflect the changes in at-risk populations and where they are more likely to be found," a shift that leaves some rural areas "with no or very limited HIV prevention programming," the Houston Chronicle reports. Casey Blass, the health department's HIV/STD health resources division director, said the changes were made to provide greater treatment options in areas such as urban centers, which have higher at-risk populations. Recent studies have shown that while white men used to have the greatest risk of HIV infection, African Americans are now the most at-risk population, with 78 HIV cases per 100,000 people, compared to 14.8 cases for whites and 13.8 cases for Hispanics. Nineteen of 57 HIV prevention programs statewide currently receiving a share of the $9.5 million that the CDC gives to the state Bureau of HIV and STD Prevention will not get any of the money next year. Those who oppose the changes say the health department "shows a bias" against rural parts of the state. In addition, Dr. Mike Ross, a professor of public health and an HIV prevention researcher at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said the state needs to evaluate the programs to determine their effectiveness. "It really is critical to have good evaluations to know what is working, to know what is least effective [and] to get the most bang for our buck," he said (Villafranca, Houston Chronicle, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.