Archive for Sunday, July 27, 2003

Criticism mounting for new HIV plans

Programs across nation would lose funding under CDC strategy

July 27, 2003

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— Workshops on safe sex in San Francisco's Mission District. HIV-prevention skits developed by teenagers in Chicago. A ministry that counsels black women in Baltimore, where syphilis rates are shockingly high.

All are among the programs that could lose funding under the new HIV prevention strategy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls for increased attention to people who already carry the virus that causes AIDS.

CDC officials say they intend to pay for the new initiative by diverting $42 million that now goes to nonprofit groups like those in San Francisco, Chicago and Baltimore, whose work with uninfected people has been the norm for keeping the virus from spreading.

The plan, unveiled in April, faces mounting criticism from advocates and some federal lawmakers, who say it will shortchange proven prevention methods and represents a dangerous shift in the government's effort to combat HIV. They'll be pressing for more answers at the CDC's National AIDS Prevention Conference, which starts today in Atlanta.

The CDC's change threatens 211 community-based organizations nationwide, most of which serve minority communities and other populations that are at the highest risk of developing AIDS.

In announcing the new strategy, CDC director Julie Gerberding said it was clear that existing prevention efforts had "stalled." About 40,000 more people in the United States are diagnosed with HIV every year.

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