Funding cuts lead to elimination of Minnesota AIDS hotline

BY admin

March 18 2006 1:00 AM ET

The Minnesota
Department of Health last week eliminated funding for
Minnesota AIDS Project's AIDSLine, a telephone hotline that
provides testing referrals and information for
HIV-positive or at-risk people. AIDSLine had been
receiving $135,000 annually from the department.

"There are
questions that many people don't feel comfortable taking
to their family doctor, clergy, family, or even sexual
partner," said Lorraine Teel, MAP's executive
director.

MAP officials
said they feel under attack by the department, noting its
decision last year to cap funding for some prevention
programs had a disproportionate impact on MAP.
That followed efforts by some conservative state
representatives to completely defund MAP.

"It's
unconscionable," said state senator Scott Dibble, who added
that he would present legislation to restore MAP's funding.

The health
department's decision was "absolutely not" politically
motivated, said Kip Beardsley, its director of sexually
transmitted disease programs. Rather, the cut followed
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
reduction of about $200,000 in state STD funding, he
said. The department is channeling funds to behavioral
change programs targeting those most at risk for HIV,
especially people of color, gay and bisexual men, and
injection drug users, Beardsley said.

"As a result of
this process, we realized that both the STD and HIV
hotlines were not as directly responsible for meeting the
needs of those populations that are most
disproportionately impacted," said Beardsley. "It was
a difficult decision, but we had to prioritize." (AP)

Tags: Health

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