House minority leader Nancy Pelosi last week wrote to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Julie Gerberding questioning why two HIV prevention agencies in San Francisco were denied federal HIV prevention funds. "Despite San Francisco having the third-largest number of people diagnosed with AIDS in the country, only three community-based organizations in San Francisco were recommended for funding as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent release of $49 million in HIV prevention grants to community-based organizations," Pelosi wrote. "The three funded agencies are excellent organizations that provide culturally competent HIV prevention services to their respective target populations: African-Americans, Asian-Pacific Islanders, and American Indian/Alaskan Natives. However, the decision not to fund two additional San Francisco applicants who were seeking renewal of their grants, the Aguilas and Stop AIDS Project, leaves a significant gap in services to two other high-risk populations: Latino men and gay and bisexual white men."
Pelosi, who represents the San Francisco area in Congress, specifically questions the CDC's evaluation of a grant proposal submitted by the Stop AIDS Project, a group focusing HIV prevention efforts toward gay and bisexual men that has been investigated twice--and cleared both times--on charges of misuse of federal money. She notes that while the CDC concludes the confidentiality of the Stop AIDS Project's plan is "not clearly defined," a detailed overview of the grant proposal actually says in two separate sections that the "applicant has a clearly articulated plan for confidentiality." Pelosi questions a similar CDC conclusion about the Project's strategies and plans to address barriers in accessing, recruiting, retaining, and involving the program's target population: The CDC concludes there isn't an identified strategy, when the detailed federal examination of the proposal actually says such a strategy is one of the program's strengths.
Pelosi poses similar questions regarding the CDC's conclusions of a grant proposal by Aguilas, a group that focuses on gay Latinos. Pelosi points out that while the CDC concludes there are several weaknesses in the group's proposal, a more detailed study by the CDC actually discounts those conclusions.
"I respectfully request a detailed explanation of the process by which allocations were made," Pelosi writes. "The CDC reports that after reviewing independent scores, they made adjustments to ensure representative funding. Please explain that procedure, provide a response to the concerns raised herein, and provide documentation that allocations were made in an equitable and accountable way."
There was no report as to whether Gerberding plans to respond to Pelosi's request.