Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson on Monday announced Ryan White grants to 51 U.S. cities totaling $595 million, but 39 of the cities received less money this year than they did in 2003, the Los Angeles Times reports. The grants are given to provide care and support services for low-income HIV-positive people. Funding amounts are based on a formula to estimate the number of AIDS patients living in each city, with supplemental grants provided to areas with severe need. The grants include $122.1 million for New York City, $36.6 million for Los Angeles, $29.8 million for San Francisco, $27 million for Washington, D.C., $25.5 million for Miami, $25.4 million for Chicago, $19.1 million for Houston, and $14.8 million for Boston. But most cities received 2004 funding reduced between 3% and 14%.
Critics say the reduced funding will damage efforts to identify more of the estimated one third of the HIV-positive people in the United States who are unaware they carry the virus. "We can't be expected to follow through on [CDC's] plan to identify more people living with HIV/AIDS and then not have the resources to care for the newly diagnosed," said Gene Copello, director of the AIDS Institute. Michael Weinstein, president of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, also says the funding cuts are based on an outdated method that only focuses on AIDS cases and not on the number of HIV cases or the number of new HIV infections occurring in each city. The old formula also doesn't take into account that many HIV-positive people who still need government-backed services are living longer and not progressing to an AIDS diagnosis due to successful anti-HIV drug treatment, Weinstein adds.