Upping the AIDS ante

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With more than $1.2 million in federal funding, Central Florida's AIDS Resource Alliance and Hope & Health Center helped manage the care of financially strapped area residents with HIV/AIDS, while Central Florida Unified AIDS Unified Resources (CENTAUR) used $130,000 to provide some of the same people with groceries and personal-care items last year.;;This year, these organizations and others comprising the county's HIV/AIDS safety net, can anticipate even greater support from Title I funding through the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Orange County $4.6 million.;;The act, passed in 1990, is named after White, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS though a blood transfusion. Temporarily barred from school due to concerns about his HIV status, he died at 18 years old. But his family's fight drew attention to the finding problems and prompted passage of the law. Other sections of the act fund outpatient early-intervention services, programs for women, children and families, training, dental care, and drug treatment and housing.;;In the latest round of Title I grants, more than $445 million in grants were distributed to 49 metropolitan areas with at least 2,000 reported cases.;;"It's incredible," says Debbie Tucci, CENTAUR's executive director. "It funds client services.";;In addition to AIDS service organizations, the funds are used to reimburse about 200 providers of services. "The No. 1 priorities are medical care and pharmaceutical. So those are the two big ticket items," says Steve Windham, executive director of the Local Health Council, the area organization designated to disburse funds for HIV/AIDS services.;;Since 1994, local funding through the federal program has jumped by almost two-thirds from $2.7 million to $4.6 million. Federal officials credit budget boosts from the Clinton administration. But local organizations credit Windham's organization, which manages AIDS/HIV funds from a handful of sources. This week, a volunteer council will meet to set priorities for divying up the latest bounty.
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