By Chris Jai Centeno
Originally published on Advocate.com August 26 2009 2:10 PM ET
California AIDS Clearinghouse, a community health organization that has served the state for over 15 years, will cease operations next week after receiving notice that its funding has been completely eliminated, one of many social service funding cuts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"The governor went beyond the deal struck with the legislature and needlessly slashed $52 million more in HIV/AIDS dollars, including all state funding for HIV-prevention/education programs,” Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, which operated the program, said in a press release.
"[The CAC] reduces state expenses and maximizes efficiency by sharing educational materials and resources among all state-funded organizations,” Jean said.
Community activists and critics believe that the gutted budget for programs like the CAC is symptomatic of the larger problem of diminished health care resources for vulnerable Californians, especially for the poor, who rely on government support for their care.
“His horribly short-sighted cuts turn back the clock on our progress in fighting HIV/AIDS and almost certainly will result in an increased HIV infection rate and greater demand for health care from organizations like the Center," Jean said. "These cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish and we'll all pay the price down the road."
The CAC has become a model program for the development of innovative and culturally competent HIV and STD prevention materials. It serves hundreds of nonprofits in the health care realm including many community clinics and HIV/AIDS organizations.
The CAC provided technical assistance and training to about a thousand HIV/AIDS and STD programs. It also helped to develop HIV education and prevention materials and campaign for more accessible, targeted health care for LGBT people.