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AIDS groups begin to reach out to sufferers of other diseases (14701)

14701Health News2004-12-30

AIDS groups begin to reach out to sufferers of other diseases

As funding for many AIDS groups continues to shrink due to government cuts and donor fatigue, many AIDS service organizations are beginning to diversify by also helping people with other diseases, The Washington Post reports. Agencies that provide legal aid, food, housing, medical treatment, and other services to HIV-positive people are beginning to assist people with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and cancer. Leaders of AIDS groups say they have a moral imperative to share the expertise they've developed during the past 20 years in helping people with AIDS, but many admit that shrinking funding for AIDS services has forced them to diversify in order to bring in new money to ensure their survival.

Among the groups to diversify is San Francisco's AIDS Emergency Fund, which now includes programs for breast cancer patients, a move that netted tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The Washington, D.C., group Food & Friends and AIDS Foundation Houston are beginning to serve people with other diseases. New York City's Latino Commission on AIDS is helping HIV-negative Latino immigrants who apply for asylum. Atlanta's Project Open Hand has expanded its services to include meal deliveries and programs for the elderly.

Some AIDS activists worry that by diversifying, AIDS service organizations will be spread too thin to adequately serve HIV-positive people. They also note that demand for AIDS services is not waning, since the United States averages about 40,000 new HIV infections each year and more people are living longer with the disease due to successful antiretroviral therapy.

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