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Bay Area faces
AIDS funding cuts, Pelosi protests

Bay Area faces
AIDS funding cuts, Pelosi protests

San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties will lose as much as $8.6 million a year in federal HIV/AIDS compensation under the Bush administration's reevaluation of the Ryan White CARE Act.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has sharply criticized the changes, sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services demanding an explanation for the decision. "The drastic nature of this cut will have a devastating impact on services that keep people living with HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area healthy,'' Pelosi wrote.

San Francisco's HIV Health Services Planning Council has proposed a 36% reduction in distribution of Ryan White money to absorb the impact of funding cuts. Among the programs bracing for cuts are meal deliveries, emergency housing, legal assistance, benefits counseling, and emergency financial aid.

The Ryan White CARE Act was enacted in 1990 to provide care for low-income and uninsured individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS. At $2.1 billion, it is the largest source of federal funding intended to combat the epidemic. After negotiations last year, the law was reauthorized to focus more funding on rural areas and the South at the expense of urban areas, such as San Francisco.

All three counties stood to lose money under the reauthorization, which Pelosi signed, but the cuts are much larger than expected. According to the released figures, San Francisco's funding will drop from $27.4 million in 2006 to $18.8 million this year.

Pelosi argues that if San Francisco's award was consistent with last year's negotiations, the city would have received $26 million in 2007. (The Advocate)

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