The San Francisco Department of Public Health has cut nearly $17.5 million from its proposed budget for fiscal 2003-2004, including funds for services for people living with HIV/AIDS, reports the Bay Area Reporter. But funding for HIV and other sexually transmitted disease prevention actually received a boost in the budget, with an additional $150,000 allotted for syphilis prevention and testing programs. Those funds will be matched by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The proposed budget will be introduced at public hearings later this month and still needs to be approved by the mayor and the city's board of supervisors.
Two of the agencies hit that would be hit hardest by the proposed budget cuts are the University of California, San Francisco, AIDS Health Project and Shanti, with both groups likely to lose a total of about $400,000. Officials with the groups say nearly 900 clients at AHP would be affected by the cuts, as well as another 600 at Shanti. Shanti would have to lay off six employees who train and coordinate volunteers working with the agency's transportation, medication adherence, and home assistance programs. AHP would lose funding for its AIDS hotline, which provides information to about 24,000 city residents each year.
"This is the worst year for the health department in the last eight years," said health director Mitch Katz. "These cuts are extremely painful and are occurring in areas already with unmet needs."