Minnesota House Committee Approves Amendment to Bill To Eliminate Funding for Minnesota AIDS Project
A Minnesota House committee has approved an amendment to the House version of the state Department of Health budget bill that would eliminate all state funding for the not-for-profit Minnesota AIDS Project, which is the largest HIV/AIDS prevention program in the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Wolfe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/23). The amendment, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Emmer (R), also would prevent the organization from receiving any state grants and would ban all state HIV prevention funding for Web sites, pamphlets, or other communications containing "sexually explicit images or language" (Coleman, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/23). The measure would cut $425,000 -- about 10% of MAP's total annual budget -- in funding from the organization, which was founded in 1983 and provides HIV/AIDS care, education and outreach to more than 2,100 HIV-positive Minnesotans, according to MAP Executive Director Lorraine Teel. Emmer said he introduced the amendment because he was "shocked and disgusted" by explicit language on the MAP-sponsored Pride Alive Web site, which provides health-related information for men who have sex with men. MAP officials on Friday said that the Pride Alive program, which also publishes magazines, is privately funded and receives no state money, a fact that is noted on the Web site. MAP spokesperson Amy Weiss added that the language used on the site and in magazine articles is appropriate for the target audience, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. State Health Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser said her department is discussing the measure with House members in order to clarify the meaning of sexually explicit language. "MAP has been a pretty good partner for us, doing things we can't do," Leitheiser said. State health department AIDS Director Kip Beardsley said, "There is a role for language that may be jarring for some people and which is appropriately targeted to specific risk groups," adding, "But we don't pay for that." The bill now advances to the full state House, the Star Tribune reports (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.