NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State only gives minority-run
community service groups about 30 percent of its funds for
treatment, prevention and education programs, but over 76
percent of all people with AIDS are
minorities, an advocacy group said on Tuesday.
Michael Kink, a spokesman for Housing Works, Inc., said it was
important for people who need treatment and prevention programs
to get services from the people who can best speak to them.
"This is about local, community people working with people who
have AIDS," Kink told Reuters.
He did not rule out suing the state if what he saw as a funding
problem was not resolved.
The state in the fiscal year 2000 spent around $100 million for
these types of programs, he said. Housing Works is an advocacy
group for homeless New Yorkers who have AIDS or HIV.
Kristine Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of
Health, disagreed sharply with the Housing Work's conclusions,
saying: "HIV/AIDS funds go where the epidemic is and that is in
large part in minority communities. The allegations from
Housing Works are disingenuous." She added: "They would not say
the organizations that are currently providing services do not
do a good job."
The community groups that get AIDS/HIV funding from the state
must prove they will deliver the services in the various
languages that are needed and "appropriately address cultural
issues," she said.
Kink said a legislative solution was preferable to a lawsuit.
"We'll look to Albany for the answer to this problem. If the
Legislature and the governor cannot act, then certainly
litigation is one of the options down-the-road."
Most community service groups the state provides AIDS/HIV funds
to meet two out of three of the federal standards that define
them as minority-run, Smith said.
Those guidelines require the community group's governing board
to draw at least half of its members from minorities, include a
significant number of minorities in key positions, and have an
established record of service to the minority community, Smith
More than 56,000 people in New York State had AIDS as of June
2000, Kink said, adding some 43,482 lived in New York City. "We
estimate several hundred thousand are living with HIV"
throughout the state, he added.