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D.C. HIV/AIDS
director fired

D.C. HIV/AIDS
director fired

District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Administration director Lydia Watts was fired Tuesday in the midst of ongoing criticism of the way the district has responded to the AIDS crisis, The Washington Post reports. Watts, who was appointed to the job one year ago by D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, was fired by district health director Gregg A. Pane, who did not give specific reasons for Watts's dismissal but said new leadership is needed on AIDS issues.

"There was an urgency that people expressed about taking this epidemic on," Pane told the Post. "I felt that new leadership was needed for getting us where we needed to go."

Watts's dismissal came a week after the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice released a report that said the district's management, supervision, coordination, and staffing of AIDS programs is inadequate. Reports also have indicated that federal AIDS funds to the district have been poorly managed, with some grants issued to organizations that provided no HIV services, and that the district fails to compensate AIDS service organizations in a timely manner, which earlier this year exacerbated a fiscal crisis at the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, resulting in massive program cuts and layoffs at the organization.

Pane did not name a successor for the position but says he hopes to do so within the next few days.

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