Florida HIV program loses funding
City officials in West Volusia, Fla., recently voted 4-1 to end $57,000 in annual funding for an HIV/AIDS outreach program in the county, which will result in the loss of the city's only HIV intervention specialist, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Unless other financial resources are identified, the program will cease on August 31. The shutdown of the program will result in a layoff for outreach worker Lynnett Robinson, who currently performs street outreach urging the city's residents to practice safer sex, to get tested for HIV antibodies, and to access treatment if they are HIV-positive. City officials cut the funding for the program due to a budget shortfall and a renewed focus on indigent care. Overall, the city cut $360,000 from a number of health programs.
Dixie Morgese, executive director of West Volusia's Outreach Community Care Network, says the loss of the HIV/AIDS program will likely result in rising HIV infection rates in Volusia County, already one of the top 10 Florida counties in the number of HIV infections with more than 1,000 residents infected with the virus. Most of the new HIV cases in Volusia County are being reported among minorities and women.