HHS Announces $595 Million in Ryan White Grants for Urban HIV Programs; 40 of 51 Cities Receive Less Than in 2003HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Monday announced 51 grants totaling more than $595 million for cities nationwide to provide care and support services for low-income HIV-positive people, according to an HHS release. The grants, which are overseen by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, are funded under Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act. Funding amounts are based on a formula using the estimated number of people living with AIDS in each city, with supplemental grants awarded competitively based on the "demonstration of severe need" and other criteria, according to the release. The grants include $14.8 million in funding for HIV/AIDS programs in Boston, $25.4 million for Chicago, $19.1 million for Houston, $36.6 million for Los Angeles, $25.5 million for Miami, $122.1 million for New York City, $29.8 million for San Francisco and $27 million for Washington, D.C. (HHS release, 3/1). However, 40 of the 51 grants are lower than last year's funding levels, with cuts ranging from 3% to 14% (Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 3/2). The grants cover physician visits, home-based care, hospice care, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, case management and assistance in obtaining medications for HIV-positive people who have partial or no health insurance. A portion of each grant will go to the Minority AIDS Initiative, according to the release.
"These grants will increase access to quality health care for those Americans living with HIV or AIDS, especially those who need help the most, including minorities, the uninsured and the underinsured," Thompson said (HHS release, 3/1). The funding reductions show the need for "appropriate and adequate funding for programs and services for nearly one million Americans living with HIV," Dr. Gene Copello, director of the AIDS Institute, said, adding, "We can't be expected to follow through on [CDC's] plan to identify more people living with HIV/AIDS and then not have the resources to care for the newly diagnosed" (AIDS Institute release, 3/1). AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said that in California the increasing cost of drugs, the state's budget crisis and federal funding cuts "may create significant hardships for people with HIV and AIDS," according to the Los Angeles Times. Weinstein added that basing Ryan White formula funding on the number of AIDS cases in each metropolitan area is an "outdated approach," as more HIV-positive people are surviving longer without developing AIDS because of improvements in treating the disease, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 3/2).