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NYC Aids organizations face funding peril
  by Miriam Kreinin Souccar
Most of the city's estimated 160 AIDS organizations have had their funding slashed by at least 20% as government funds have begun going to hospitals and clinics for medical care instead of to community-based social services and prevention programs.
Bailey House, which operates two shelters for homeless people with AIDS -- in East Harlem and Greenwich Village -- has lost more than $2 million in the past two years. Body Positive, one of the city's oldest AIDS nonprofits, is at risk of shutting down.
"This is the toughest environment I've ever seen," says Joe Pressley, executive director of the New York AIDS Coalition, an alliance of local providers. "If the current plan of government entities is left unchecked, within a year or two, very few organizations that are on the front line providing vital care and prevention support services will be left standing."
AIDS activists place much of the blame on Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. "[Dr.] Frieden seems to have an aversion to community-based groups," says Martin Duenas, administrative director at Brooklyn Legal Services, which last November lost $450,000 it used to help keep AIDS patients in their homes.
Dr. Frieden says that although those groups have an important function, "it's a question of identifying where every dollar we spend will have the maximum potential impact in stopping an epidemic."
For groups affected by the reallocation of resources, the situation may get even worse -- and soon.
The Ryan White Care Act, which authorizes the principal federal funding for local AIDS groups, allocates $120 million a year to New York state; more than 60% of those funds could be cut.
President George W. Bush has proposed that more money be used for basic medical services rather than for social services.
2006 Crain Communications Inc.
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