Tags: AIDS | Funding | 'an | Epidemic | Waste'

AIDS Funding 'an Epidemic of Waste'

Friday, 15 February 2002 12:00 AM

What's needed is wiser spending of AIDS money, not an increase in spending, according to the group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

CAGW Thursday released its special report, "AIDS Programs: An Epidemic Of Waste," which systematically shows how federal funds meant for AIDS programs have allegedly been misallocated, mismanaged and wasted.

"Overall, we found about $1 billion, about 7.7 percent of the $13 billion in total federal AIDS funding, that is being mismanaged and wasted," Thomas A. Schatz, president of CAGW, said. "We believe that it would be more compassionate to take the money that is being wasted and provide it to the people who truly need it."

The CAGW report offers a detailed look at the history of AIDS in the United States, but it is the scathing assessment of the taxpayer-funded AIDS programs that stands out.

Included in the report are several examples of the misuse of federal funds. For example, Positive Force, a San Francisco AIDS prevention group, receives $1 million annually from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

According to CAGW, Positive Force offers flirting classes and, last July, hosted a workshop on how to have anal intercourse even while suffering from diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common side effect of the AIDS virus, according to the report.

On Feb. 28, Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco, which received nearly $700,000 from the CDC, will host "GUYWATCH: Blow by Blow," the CAGW report stated. The advertisement for the seminar reads, "What tricks do you want to share to make your man tremble with delight?"

Another alleged misuse of federal funding in the fight to stop AIDS occurred in Tampa Bay, Fla., where the non-profit Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan (THAP) "rang up nearly $1,000 in meal charges in a three-week period and were also afforded the use of sport utility vehicles," the CAGW said.

THAP's top executives also received four season tickets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning professional sporting events, according to the report, at a time when "THAP owed nearly $25,000 in delinquent payroll taxes." THAP receives $450,000 a year from the federal government to provide housing to people with AIDS, the CAGW report shows.

Aids activist Wayne Turner, the co-founder of ACTUP DC!, joined Schatz at Thursday's news conference and agreed it was necessary to stop the abuse of federal funds earmarked for AIDS programs.

"As an AIDS activist, someone who has lost a partner to AIDS, I can say that it is so important that people living with, and dying from, this disease have access to the services necessary to keep them alive," Turner said.

"We've been on the forefront of fighting for more money for AIDS and fighting for these programs and demanding passionate and humane treatment for those who suffer from this disease," Turner said. "But, there is another part of that coin when you ask for more money, which has been poorly addressed in the twenty years of the AIDS epidemic."

Turner said it was important to make sure the money was efficiently used.

"This is a federal problem. There is a federal responsibility to insure that AIDS money is spent appropriately and helps people," Turner said.

Turner brought along a tote bag, from which he pulled a water bottle, key chain and other trinkets that he said were paid for with AIDS funding. He called on AIDS programs to quit wasting money on such items and to start helping people.

"There are real people who are falling through the cracks in the system," Turner said.

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What's needed is wiser spending of AIDS money, not an increase in spending, according to the group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). CAGW Thursday released its special report, AIDS Programs: An Epidemic Of Waste, which systematically shows how federal funds...
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2002-00-15
Friday, 15 February 2002 12:00 AM
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