Dallas City Council to vote today on whether to reinstate funding for HIV/AIDS services

Posted on 16 Sep 2009 at 11:28am

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas board member Phyllis Guest sent over a document this morning detailing the impacts of the city’s budget cuts related to HIV/AIDS services. Guest and other Stonewall members reportedly are at City Hall again today lobbying councilmembers to reinstate the HIV/AIDS funding, as has been proposed in a budget amendment from Councilwoman Angela Hunt.

According to Guest, Dallas County Health and Human Services has agreed to pick up the cost of an epidemiologist that was being paid for by the city and was included in the cuts, meaning the overall impact is now only $280,000 as opposed to $325,000. As written, Hunt’s amendment would reinstate $250,000 for HIV/AIDS services.

DV Publisher Robert Moore asked me this morning whether I think there’s any chance the cuts will be reinstated, and my simple answer to him was, “I don’t know.” I’ve heard all summer from city sources that there’s little chance HIV/AIDS funding would be reinstated given the city’s $190 million shortfall. But the work of Stonewall members and others this summer appears to be paying off, at least in the form of Hunt’s amendment. Dallas Morning News reporter Rudy Bush, who has a much better handle on the situation than me, reported this morning that Hunt’s amendment “is likely to get serious consideration.” The council is expected to vote on all of the proposed budget amendments today before finalizing the budget next week.

Ultimately, I suspect other amendments will take priority over Hunt’s (it looks like a few have already passed), but kudos to her for introducing it. If nothing else, the debate will raise awareness about the affected programs and hopefully carry over into next year, when the city may or may not be in a better financial situation. What’s the old saying about how when times get tough, you learn who your real friends are? Hunt is surely one of them.

If you’re interested in following today’s proceedings more closely, check out The DMN’s City Hall blog. Also, read the document prepared by Guest about the impact of the cuts after the jump.

Wednesday, September 15, 2009

DALLAS HIV/AIDS BUDGET CUTS — Specific impacts of the proposed cuts

With the Dallas County Health and Human Services picking up the $44,000 cost of an epidemiologist, as Travis learned last week (thanks, Travis!), we are still looking at some $280,000 in cuts to HIV/AIDS outreach, education, and prevention programs as follows:

  • AIDS Interfaith Network: $103,000 at risk. AIN would lose two programs: (1) HIV/AIDS education, outreach, and prevention for minority women ($50,000) and (2) HIV/AIDS education, outreach, and prevention for other very poor men and women. To identify those most at risk, AIN uses the City of Dallas census tracks. Together, the programs serve 8,000 individuals — most of whom are the poorest of the poor. The funds pay for staff to identify the individuals, contact them with prevention info, counsel them face-to-face, test as many as are willing, then connect those who test positive with health care and other services. With no funding, there would be no staff, no time to do the work.
  • Resource Center of Dallas: $75,000 at risk. RCD would lose the program carefully designed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among Latinos. At present, an assigned staff person contacts Latinos where they congregate, including in bars, and talks to them about the risk. On an ongoing basis, RCD also hosts social/educational meetings so the men can meet in a risk-free, culturally appropriate setting. If the men are willing, they are tested. Year-to-date, 170 Latino MSM have been tested; 14 (8%) have been poz – a high rate. With the cut, both the staff person and the meetings would go.
  • Urban League of Greater Dallas: $44,000 at risk. The Urban League would lose its only program for minority adolescents, the staff person who organizes and operates the program, and the materials it distributes. Serving ages 12 through 19, the UL counselor goes to DISD schools, alternative schools, and after-school program sites to talk about harm reduction, including warnings about body piercing and needle sharing, plus demonstrations of condom use (condom distribution not allowed here). If willing, the adolescents are sent for HIV/AIDS testing and given pre-and post-test counseling.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center: $58,500 at risk. UT Southwestern would lose much of its EduCAPE (Education, Community assessment, Planning, Evaluation) program. What that means is the loss of much of its ability to deliver HIV/AIDS and STD prevention information via workshops to the Dallas community and to those individuals and groups that serve us all. Lost as well would be much of EduCAPE’s ability to gather and evaluate data on HIV/AIDS and STDs and to design increasingly effective outreach programs. Importantly, of the four described here, only UT Southwestern’s program specifically integrates Hepatitis C prevention, testing, and treatment recommendations.

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