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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
GEORGIA: Jobs for Preventing HIV Get Cut Throughout Georgia
S. Heather Duncan
January 17, 2012
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 duties.

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.