Local HIV/AIDS service providers have criticized the Health Resources and Service Administration’s decision to cut more than $1 million in grants that fund case management and other programs designed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Children’s National Medical Center had received $1.1 million in annual grants from HRSA under Part D of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act that specifically supports women, children and families living with HIV. Metro TeenAIDS and the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League are among the local groups that received HRSA funds through the Northwest Washington hospital.
“From my perspective, that $1.1 million was meant to keep HIV-positive women, children and families connected to medical care,” Adam Tenner, executive director of Metro TeenAIDS, told the Blade. He said that his group had a “very modest contract” with Children’s. “This is critically important to our city and our country as we implement a national HIV/AIDS strategy that encourages HIV positive people to get care.”
SMYAL executive director Andrew Barnett told the Blade his organization received an annual grant of slightly under $60,000 from Children’s that funded a care advocacy program that connected young people newly diagnosed with HIV to the hospital. “Unfortunately with this grant ending, we are no longer able to provide this service directly,” he said. “We continue to work with Children’s Hospital. They’ve been a great partner of ours.”
HRSA spokesperson Elizabeth Senerchia confirmed to the Blade that her agency reopened the Part D grant application process as a way to ensure funding dollars reach “areas with unmet needs” as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy outlines. MedStar Health Research Initiative in Hyattsville will receive $350,000 annually over the next five years to provide Part D services to D.C.
Senerchia acknowledged that this figure is a decrease in funding, but she noted that the city will receive $30,987,607 this year through Part A of the Ryan White CARE Act that funds HIV prevention efforts in urban areas. Washington will also receive $20,138,009 in 2012 through Part B that funds state AIDS Drug Reimbursement Programs and other initiatives to support those with the virus. Senerchia further noted that Whitman-Walker Health, Family Medical and Medical Counseling Service, the Carl Vogel Center, Unity Health Care, Inc., the Howard University Hospital Center for Infectious Disease and Research and MedStar Research Institute received $2,996,116 this year to fund primary care services under Part C.
“HRSA’s Project Officer for D.C’s Part A and Part B grants has reached out to discuss the decreased Part D resources with District officials and we are working with Medstar to ensure continuity of program and client transitions,” said Senerchia.
City officials were quick to note that this decrease in funding will not impact D.C. government’s efforts to combat the city’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Brendan Williams-Kief, spokesperson for D.C. Councilmember David Catania (I-At Large,) expressed concern over the cut.
“Any reduction of federal grant funding is unsettling, particularly if it impacts such important programs,” he told the Blade. “We will work with Children’s and the Department of Health to determine the impact of the reduction and potential next steps.”