Baltimore Mayor Declares ‘State of Emergency’ in Fight Against AIDS
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) yesterday declared a "state of emergency" in the fight against AIDS and announced a plan to create a standing commission of public officials and people from the private sector to monitor the disease and the quality of city programs to address it, the Baltimore Sun reports. At the news conference, city Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said Baltimore would also direct money from the city treasury to fight AIDS, but he did not specify an amount. O'Malley's announcement, which according to the Sun offered "little new money and few initiatives," followed "intense lobbying" by an AIDS commission headed by City Council President Sheila Dixon and a group of African-American ministers. The groups, which have called the city's efforts to fight AIDS "woefully inadequate," have been asking the mayor since June to devote more resources to prevention, treatment and education. A panel of experts convened by the City Council last year said that city health officials "have not paid enough attention" to AIDS prevention and education and "have not done enough" to coordinate public, private and church-based groups' efforts against the disease, the Sun reports. While new HIV and AIDS cases in Baltimore have been declining for several years, around 12,000 Baltimore residents had HIV or AIDS in 2000, one of the highest per capita caseloads in the country. About 85% of those with HIV or AIDS are African-American, a proportion that far exceeds the number of African Americans in the city's population (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.