Washington, D.C., AIDS Administration Cuts Funding of Prevention Program Targeting White MSM
The Washington, D.C., HIV/AIDS Administration has cut by 55% 2004 funding for a Whitman-Walker Clinic HIV prevention program targeting white men who have sex with men, the Washington Blade reports. HAA officials say that the budget cut, which will reduce funding for the program from $440,000 in 2003 to $200,000 for 2004, is needed to comply with new CDC guidelines that call for a shift in prevention funds to target people who are already HIV-positive (Chibbaro, Washington Blade, 12/12). The CDC in April announced a new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy that will shift funding distribution away from community groups that provide education aimed at reducing unsafe sexual and drug-use behaviors in people who have not contracted HIV. According to the strategy, the government will invest most heavily in initiatives that focus on identifying HIV-positive people who are unaware of their status, which could jeopardize approximately $90 million in annual federal funding for community groups. The CDC has said that the current emphasis on community outreach prevention programs has proven ineffective, citing annual increases in the number of new HIV cases nationwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/29).
The cut to the WWC program, which is known as G-NET, will be "a great loss for the community," Paul Feldman, public affairs director of the National Association of People With AIDS, said. The G-NET program distributes condoms and safe sex literature at bars and nightclubs, conducts workshops discouraging multiple sex partners and provides individual counseling and "skills building groups" for MSM in the District. Some AIDS advocates have said that programs targeting people who are already HIV-positive should not come at the expense of existing prevention programs and that cuts could lead to higher HIV incidence rates for at-risk groups. Ivan Torres, interim administrator of HAA, said that the cut was solely based on a decrease in federal funding and was not linked to the program's performance. Torres also said that HAA has not received complaints about G-NET, although Congress and other groups have criticized similar programs in other cities, according to the Blade (Washington Blade, 12/12).
HIV Prevention Reports
Two HIV/AIDS advocacy groups recently released reports on HIV prevention. Summaries of reports follow:
AIDS Project Los Angeles: APLA on Friday released a white paper, titled "Changing How We Think: HIV Prevention Policy in the U.S.," presenting a series of recommendations that "build on the success of HIV prevention" in the United States over the last two decades. In order to "further reduc[e]" HIV incidence in the United States, HIV prevention efforts need to be comprehensive. APLA offers several recommendations on how to expand efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS, including improving access to health care, promoting support for vaccine and microbicide research, targeting HIV prevention efforts at high-risk populations and promoting HIV prevention programs that "build upon individual and community resiliencies." The report concludes that lowering HIV incidence "even further is an attainable goal that will require that we think differently about HIV prevention" (APLA, "Changing How We Think: HIV Prevention Policy in the U.S.," December 2003).
- American Academy of HIV Medicine: AAHIVM on Monday released a position paper, titled "HIV Prevention and Progress," calling on the federal government to fight HIV/AIDS with "enough resources" to reverse the "alarming trend" in increasing HIV incidence reported by the CDC. AAHIVM calls on the government to "recognize current HIV/AIDS prevention successes and build on them." AAHIVM also calls for increased funding of needle-exchange programs, which could "prevent thousands of HIV infections among injection drug users and their sexual partners," according to the release (AAHIVM release, 12/15).