Central Florida's first HIV/AIDS service organization, the Orlando-based AIDS Resource Alliance, shut down Friday due to financial and leadership problems, the Orlando Sentinel reports. "There were so many pieces that had to fall in place perfectly for us [to remain open]. That didn't happen," said ARA executive director Mark D'Aoust.
Troubles for the organization began several years ago, when a former director was 30 seconds late in filing a grant request to Orange County health officials and the group subsequently lost federal funding disbursed by the county. The agency never recovered from those financial losses and this year lost another county-issued grant because of its financial instability, which led ARA officials to decide to fold the organization. Health officials in central Florida are working to place ARA clients in other HIV/AIDS service groups. ARA provided counseling services, case management, and financial support services to HIV-positive people in Florida's Orange, Osceola, and Lake counties.