Washington Post Examines How Some HIV/AIDS Organizations Also Provide Services to Other Groups
HIV/AIDS organizations nationwide increasingly are providing social services -- including the provision of food, housing, legal representation and medical treatment -- to patients with other life-threatening diseases, including Parkinson's, cancer and Alzheimer's, the Washington Post reports. The groups say that diversification is necessary because HIV/AIDS funding has decreased and because they have a "moral imperative to share expertise developed during two decades of caring for seriously ill AIDS patients," according to the Post. The groups say that their expansion has helped in fundraising efforts. Some groups that have diversified services include Washington D.C.-based Food & Friends, Texas-based AIDS Foundation Houston, New York-based Latino Commission on AIDS and Georgia-based Project Open Hand.
Some HIV/AIDS advocates have criticized the groups' expansions, claiming that the 40,000 people who are diagnosed with HIV annually in the United States and the 18,000 U.S. patients who die of the disease every year "will be shunted aside in the rush to diversify," according to the Post. Michael Petrelis, a San Francisco AIDS advocate, said that by diversifying, "it seems like they're spreading themselves way too thin, especially since (AIDS) funding levels are down." Stephen Woods, executive director of Project Open Hand, said, "If we've created a service that's needed by people who are sick, then we should do what we can to expand to meet their needs," adding, "Just because we responded to a crisis at one point in time (doesn't make it) necessary to focus only on one population" (Salmon, Washington Post, 12/27/04).