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director calls for expanded outreach

director calls for expanded outreach

Marsha Martin, named last month as director of the District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Administration, on Friday announced a plan to reform the administration and to develop a larger grassroots effort to combat HIV. "We will have to create the capacity we lack," Martin said. "We want to make the district's response to HIV a model for the nation."

One of Martin's priorities will be to target prevention education and services to groups such as women, youth, and inmates. Martin said reaching gay African-American men is an important goal because they account for 46% of new HIV infections nationwide. Martin called for AIDS services to expand to all wards of the nation's capital, where nearly one in 20 people are HIV-positive.

D.C. inspector general Charles Willoughby outlined his report on the HIV/AIDS Administration at Friday's hearing of the D.C. council's health committee, citing instances in which it had awarded grant money to groups without proper business licenses. In some cases, the administration did not even have correct phone numbers or addresses for its service providers. The agency's late payments to private providers such as the Whitman-Walker Clinic may have contributed to its recent service cutbacks.

Willoughby said AIDS program managers should reinstate quarterly site visits to their providers as mandated by law, and Martin agreed. She suggested changing the name of the office to the Administration for HIV/AIDS Policy and Programs to emphasize its policy role.

Martin said she hired 10 new people in the past month to provide new leadership for the agency, which currently has at least 24 vacant positions. Washington will begin collaborating with other cities and with states to share resources. (AP)

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