A proposed funding cut means New Mexico AIDS Services will have to lay off staff and cancel services for hundreds of HIV-positive patients. "We're devastated," said NMAS executive director Kathleen Kelley. Under a contract negotiated last week, NMAS funding would be cut from $1.3 million to $800,000. Kelley said NMAS would have to eliminate health care, transportation, and counseling services. It would be left offering only case management, in which staffers help clients find housing or medical care.
Bruce Williams, medical director for the University of New Mexico's Truman Street Services Health Clinic, which partners with NMAS, said barriers to receiving services and treatment could lead to the spread of HIV. As caseloads have increased and drug costs gone up, Williams said, state and federal funding for the last three years have stayed flat. Williams anticipates a 59% cut in his clinic's services budget, which means it will lose a psychiatrist and psychologist. Williams said he is troubled by the loss of mental health services because "up to 70% of AIDS patients have mental health or substance abuse issues, based on our caseload."
The state's HIV/AIDS program has a $2.8 million shortfall for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, and the state is shifting money from support services to health insurance and drugs. Other contractors around the state are facing similar cuts, from one third to one half of their state funding for HIV/AIDS services. About 1,000 clients are enrolled in such programs statewide. (AP)