Gay Blade

State Budget Cuts HIV/AIDS Spending MPowerOC Closes Doors as Funding is Lost

By Chad Ratner

October 10, 2010

Due to extreme state budget cuts California’s AIDS education, testing, and resource organizations have lost a large portion of their funding. Some organizations who have been forced to eliminate services or make drastic cutbacks include but are not limited to the following: AIDS Project Los Angeles, Bienestar Human Services, Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, Minority AIDS Project, Women Alive, MPower OC, and The Center OC.

MPower OC, a social support organization that emphasized HIV prevention and targeted gay/bisexual men ages 18-29, received word in July that the Center for Disease Control would not be renewing their grant. This came as a huge shock to MPower OC who has led educational programs about safer sex practices and provided free HIV testing services. Their center in Costa Mesa has provided gay youth a safe environment and an alternative to drugs, gangs, and abuse. Now due to funding cutbacks, their programs will no longer be available.

Mpower is not the only HIV/AIDS prevention and testing center that has been hurt by statewide budget cuts. The Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team has also recently lost much of their funding. The mission of Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) is to positively affect the quality of life for Asian and Pacific Islanders living with or at-risk for HIV/AIDS by providing a continuum of prevention, health and social services, community leadership and advocacy to the Southern California region.

Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) is one of the nation’s largest providers of HIV/AIDS prevention and care services for the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. Based in Southern California, APAIT has been providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services since 1987. APAIT was hit hard by the Governor’s cuts to the state Office of AIDS that has resulted in the reduction of nearly $320,000 in APAIT’s annual operating budget.

Reduced Funding for Programs includes:

* Orange County Prevention Program (60% reduction)
* Case Management Program (17% reduction)
* Medical Transportation Services (10% reduction)
* Los Angeles County Prevention Program (3% reduction)
* Home Based Case Management
* Client Advocacy
* Early Intervention Program
* Service Provider Training
* Residential Care & Treatment
* Therapeutic Monitoring

ELIMINATED state programs as a result of the cuts include:

* Legal Services
* Medical Nutrition Therapy
* Peer Support
* Service Provider Training
* Service Capacity Building

The Center OC in Santa Ana was forced to replace two HIV prevention specialists (one who spoke English and one who spoke Spanish) with one bilingual HIV/AIDS prevention outreach specialist due to budget cuts. The person who helped with transgender outreach services was also laid off. There is no doubt that many more outreach specialists are needed in Santa Ana and throughout Southern California.

Budget cuts are also affecting Human Sexuality classes across the state. At California State University Long Beach, many experienced professors have been laid off. There are fewer classes about HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues being offered this year.

We are all living with AIDS.

Since October is National AIDS Awareness Month, please consider doing one of the following to show your support for those affected with HIV/AIDS:

-Donate money to a local AIDS service organization/event
-Sign up/Roadie for the AIDS LifeCycle
-Participate in your local AIDS Walk
-Donate a few hours to help deliver meals, work in the food bank, or help in the office
-Encourage a friend to get tested- go together
-Help educate/talk to people about HIV/AIDS prevention