After federal officials gave the New Orleans area about $540,000 less in Ryan White AIDS grants this year than last year, the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council is meeting to determine how to handle the funding loss, The Times-Picayune reports. Health officials expect the reduced federal funding will result in cuts to programs offering such nonpriority services as dental care, mental health care, and financial assistance.
The funding loss is particularly troubling, say AIDS activists, because the number of people living with HIV in New Orleans is up 9.4% since 2001. The federal grants were issued based on the number of AIDS cases in each city, which has decreased in New Orleans due largely to successful treatment programs.
A dental clinic for HIV-positive patients administered through Charity Hospital, which is funded by Ryan White dollars, could be forced to close as early as the end of the month because of funding shortages, says Kathleen Lincoln, manager of the hospital's HIV programs. Officials with the New Orleans AIDS Task Force also say they will likely reduce or eliminate some of their services, including a food bank, home meal deliveries, substance abuse programs, and an emergency financial assistance program.