Officials Vote To Restore Funding for New York City HIV/AIDS Youth Center
A group of HIV/AIDS service providers and government officials recently voted to continue funding for the Ali Forney Center, a Manhattan-based drop-in center that provides HIV testing, referrals and food for homeless gay young people, the AP/AOL News reports. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in September said it would not renew $600,000 in annual funding for the center because of economic conditions and a need for more efficient spending. According to the AP/AOL News, city officials decided funding would be better spent on housing for people living with HIV/AIDS rather than on the outreach and case management provided by the Forney center. Monica Sweeney of the health department said, "Difficult choices have to be made in these tough times," adding that "[n]o one or any program or any sector is going to be spared" from the financial downturn.
The city's decision to suspend funding for the Forney center prompted politicians -- such as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and state Sen. Tom Duane (D-N.Y.) -- to urge officials to reconsider. The recent vote will allow the center to remain open, and funding will be provided under the Ryan White Program. The center, which has a budget of $4 million for 2008 to 2009, this year has tested more than 200 people between ages 16 and 24 for HIV, referred 50 HIV-positive young people to medical care and housing, and served more than 10,000 meals, Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Forney center, said. Siciliano said the young people who visit the center "are grossly underserved" in New York City, adding that the center is "the best ally and support they have. To take that away from them would have been cruel and reckless."
According to the AP/AOL News, other HIV service providers in New York City are "feeling the squeeze as the city tightens its belt," such as St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, which is appealing the city's recent decision to suspend $200,000 in annual funding for its HIV treatment program. More than 100,000 people in New York City are HIV-positive (Franklin, AP/AOL News, 12/6).