Ongoing financial problems and growing debt may force the closure of the Friends for Life AIDS Resource Center in Baton Rouge, La., agency officials said this week. The organization has been unable to pay its employees for the past several months and recently stopped offering federally backed HIV/AIDS programs, The [Baton Rouge] Advocate reports. Currently, the agency offers only free HIV antibody testing. "We're hanging on by a thread," executive director Ric Smith said. "There's no doubt we're hanging on by a breath."
Friends for Life lost a federal Ryan White grant in May that covered case management services for HIV-positive women and their families. Three U.S. Housing and Urban Development grants also have been frozen since February because the agency failed to complete a required 2001 financial audit. Eleven agency employees have not been paid since April 30 as a result of the lack of funds. Smith said in May that once the audit is completed, the agency will again begin receiving federal funds, but to date the audit has not been finished.