Milwaukee County, Wis., Finance Committee Votes to Shift Restored Funding to AIDS Prevention Education From Needle Exchange
The Milwaukee County, Wis., Finance Committee yesterday voted 6-1 to limit the use of $150,000 in restored county funds to AIDS prevention education and to prevent its use to support the county's needle-exchange program, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Umhoefer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/24). County Executive Scott Walker last month proposed withdrawing $230,000 in funding from the county's AIDS program, saying that HIV/AIDS prevention is not a "core function of the county" and should be handled by city or state health officials. Walker added that he was particularly concerned about the program because of its support of needle exchange for injection drug users in an attempt to prevent the spread of HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/30). Earlier this month, after officials from the county AIDS program called Walker's proposal a "lethal" cut that would lead to an "explosion" in HIV/AIDS cases in the county, the Finance Committee restored $150,000 in funding for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, which holds the contract to provide county AIDS services, and tried to "segregate" the funds from the "controversial" needle-exchange program by preventing the center from "purchas[ing] or distribut[ing]" needles using the county funding. If the full Board of County Supervisors agrees with the Financial Committee's decision, which clarifies that county funds may not support needle exchange, the AIDS group's needle-exchange program will need to be funded by outside sources in order to continue functioning at its current level, Mike Gifford, an ARCW official, said. Gifford added that the committee's decision to limit how the center uses the funds is a "significant change." Ryan McCue, the only Finance Committee member to vote against the proposal, said he personally favored spending county money only on AIDS prevention education but he had recently "heard clearly from his constituents" that they favored funding needle-exchange programs as well (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.