2008-02-07 / Other News

Sampson Urges AIDS Institute To Include Black Community In Decisions

State Senator John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) last week urged officials at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute to include American-born blacks in key policy-making positions that determine care and prevention services for people of color infected with HIV/AIDS.

"Unfortunately," Sampson said, "our preliminary examination of leadership within the AIDS Institute shows that there might not be any American-born blacks in key positions at the agency that influence care and prevention services. If that is the case, it is unacceptable."

The charges of unfair representation came on the eve of Black History Month, as the state has announced plans to reorganize how HIV/AIDS services are delivered from a community-based model to a centrally located system where allocations are equally distributed to all regions under new federal regulations. Under the new plan, the state's CARE Networks under federal funding regulations are required to consolidate services in Brooklyn from three centers into one, according to officials.

An estimated 45.8 percent of New York State's HIV/AIDS infected population is African American, with Brooklyn having the highest concentration of those infected in the state, according to recent statistics. The consolidation plan will reduce funding for the Brooklyn-based network and bring it on par with other regions in the state with considerably fewer individuals infected with HIV/AIDS, according to officials.

Sampson, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, said it appears the new plan is designed to target regions instead of care for communities like Brooklyn with high concentrations of those infected with HIV/AIDS.

"I have received multiple complaints from AIDS advocates in my district upset by the proposed consolidation of services and the detrimental impact it will have on communities of color," the senator said.

"I have spoken with Commissioner Richard F. Daines about my concerns and he has agreed to provide me with additional and continue this dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues," he continued. "The Commissioner has a responsibility to the African-American community to ensure that they are fairly represented in senior management positions in the AIDS Institute. AIDS is no longer a predominantly gay, white-male disease. The African-American community should be involved in the statewide discussion involving how services for HIV/AIDS are delivered because those decisions have a direct impact on our community."

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