CDC Announces $49M in HIV/AIDS Grants Aimed at Preventing HIV-Positive People From Spreading VirusCDC on Friday in its first round of funding since announcing its "controversial shift" in HIV/AIDS prevention strategy awarded $49 million in grants to 142 community-based organizations' programs that focus on preventing HIV-positive people from spreading the virus rather than to programs targeting people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22). CDC in April 2003 announced the new strategy, which shifts funding to initiatives that focus on identifying people who are already HIV-positive. CDC has said that the previous 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, 9/29/2003). The new effort aims to increase accessibility to HIV testing -- especially using the rapid HIV test that can provide same-day results -- so that the approximately 200,000 HIV-positive individuals in the United States who are unaware of their status can "become aware of [it] and take steps to curb transmission to others," according to the Journal-Constitution. Dr. Robert Janssen, director of CDC's Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said that through proper information and counseling, about 66% of people who find out they are HIV-positive are willing to decrease risky behavior, but only about 33% of people who are HIV-negative will change their behavior.
The new grants will provide $23 million for "prevention for positives," their partners and some people who are at high risk for HIV; $14 million for counseling and testing and $12 million for outreach and education. An estimated 82% of the groups receiving the grants focus on minorities, and 41% of the funding will go to programs targeting men who have sex with men (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22). Approximately 22% of the organizations receiving funding grants target injection drug users, according to a CDC release (CDC release, 5/21). Janssen said that 67 of the 189 HIV/AIDS prevention programs that currently receive grants will continue to do so, and 75 new programs will begin to receive federal money when the grants become available in July (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/22). Each of the 142 organizations will receive approximately $345,000 each, according to the release (CDC release, 5/21). Nearly two-thirds of the HIV/AIDS prevention organizations that previously received funding through CDC no longer will receive it through the new grants, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Some groups have "blame[d] politics" for the shift in federal funds, the Journal-Constitution reports. Stop AIDS of San Francisco -- one of the groups that will lose funding in July -- has been criticized by some Republican members of Congress last year for the group's workshops on anal sex, oral sex and "safe and friendly relations with escorts," according to the Journal-Constitution. Stop AIDS spokesperson Jason Riggs said, "I guess we are a politically high-risk group." National Association of People with AIDS Executive Director Terje Anderson said that "focusing on people with HIV can be counterproductive," adding, "When you start shaking your finger and saying, 'bad boy' and 'bad girl' it's creating an environment that is stigmatizing," the Journal-Constitution reports. Janssen said that the funding shift is not based on politics but on groups' ability to meet CDC goals in relation to HIV/AIDS rates, according to the Journal-Constitution (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22).