A community hearing was held Thursday in Santa Clara County, Calif., to allow AIDS activists to comment on plans to shut down the county's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control office due to $2.3 million in cuts to the county health department's budget, The [San Jose] Mercury News reports. County chief executive Pete Kutras requested the cuts to the program, which provides HIV testing, treatment, and social services through a mix of federal, state, and local funds. Some of the program's services would be incorporated into other county agencies, and others would simply be eliminated.
"These are very serious, Draconian cuts," Kevin Hutchcroft, director of the country program, told The Mercury News. "In the fourth-largest county in California, to not have a designated HIV/AIDS office strikes me as just not acceptable." Clark Williams, a consultant for regional HIV service providers, says the cuts send "a very scary message that HIV is no longer a concern." Bob Sillen, executive director of Santa Clara County's health and hospital system, says the proposal is only "preliminary" and that the cuts--even if eventually approved--might not take effect until 2006.