Macon Telegraph (01.09.12) - Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) is cutting 26
HIV prevention positions statewide after losing federal
funding for their salaries.
A revised CDC strategy introduced last year targets HIV
prevention resources toward areas where needs and the
potential impact of the dollars are the greatest. Atlanta-
based Fulton County Health and Wellness received a direct $4.5
million grant for use in Fulton and DeKalb counties, while the
state received $3.7 million less, said Connie Smith, a GDPH
health communications specialist.
"The reduction in funding will have a substantial impact on
the state's HIV prevention work, and the department is
currently working to mitigate the situation," Smith wrote in
an e-mail, adding that existing staff will take over some
Of the 26 positions, 20 are in regional health districts
serving about half of the state's residents living with
HIV/AIDS, Smith said. The Macon-based, 13-county North Central
Health District (NCHD) is set to lose two positions by month's
end, though the state is working to transfer the employees,
said Ronnie Boone, infectious-diseases supervisor for NCHD.
One employee is a clerical worker who also serves as the
district HIV/AIDS treatment clinic's Spanish-language
translator. He will be moved to another job in public health
but will no longer be able to translate for the clinic, said
Dr. David Harvey, NCHD's director.
The second employee, who is set to retire in April, worked on
partner notification, HIV field testing, and testing
supervision. The cuts will not result in HIV-positive people
going unserved, said Harvey, but, "It will just take us longer
to get there."
The state expects to preserve some of the district jobs beyond
Jan. 15, Smith said.