Los Angeles Supervisors Vote To Support Emergency Efforts To Save HIV/AIDS Clinic Amid Federal Funding Cuts
Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to support emergency efforts to save the Rand Schrader HIV Clinic at County-USC Medical Center after NIH announced plans to terminate the clinic's research grant, the Los Angeles Times reports. The clinic -- which opened in 1986 and is among eight clinics whose research grants are not being renewed by NIH -- provides antiretroviral drugs to about 3,000 uninsured and largely minority people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles, about 200 of whom participate in clinical trials of new HIV/AIDS treatments. According to the Times, federal officials on Nov. 20 told the clinic that research funding on Dec. 31 would be cut, and on Nov. 21, NIH blocked participants from enrolling in new clinical trials. According to county health officials, NIH is struggling with budget issues and is seeking to consolidate HIV/AIDS research in the U.S. and conduct clinical trials in developing countries. An NIH official in a statement wrote, "At this time, only a small number of HIV/AIDS network clinical site funding decisions have been finalized, and [federal officials] will not be making any public statement about the awards until most, if not all, of the sites receive their funding." According to the Times, county officials have not received a formal explanation for the $2.5 million funding reduction. Bruce Chernof, director of the county's Department of Health Services, said the lack of written justification for the funding cut is "very atypical" and "completely unacceptable," adding, "You've got people's lives at play here." County Supervisor Gloria Molina in a motion directed the board to send a letter to federal health officials requesting that the funds be reinstated. According to Molina, for many of the county's HIV-positive people in need, the trials at the clinic are "the only thing that keeps them alive." In addition, if the funding is not reinstated, research nurses, pharmacists and administrative workers will lose their jobs, the Times reports (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 12/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.