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Cleveland Health Department loses funding for HIV/AIDS

Posted at 10:47 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 23:18:15-05

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Health Department received bad news last week, the city is losing funding from the state for HIV and AIDS.

"It's a travesty it's just a travesty," said Natoya Walker, Cleveland's Chief of Public Affairs. "Our community will not be served now because we will not have these dollars."

In January 2020, Cleveland, who has more than 3,000 people living with AIDS, will lose $1.5 million in AIDS and HIV funding that the community has come to rely on.

"They notified us last week that based on a scoring rubric that it did not pass the threshold," said Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Merle Gordon.

This news comes just as dozens of people are gathered at Metro Health to visit the AIDS memorial quilt, which is a moving art exhibit where people pay tribute to the folks who lost their lives to the disease.

"I miss his presence, but he's always with me," said William Craft.

Craft lost his partner of 15 years, Patrick Broussard, to AIDS nearly six years ago.

"It reinforces the loss being right here in front obviously," said Craft.

Metro Health houses pieces of the AIDS quilt ever other year to remember those we've lost and to fight to finally end the epidemic.

The hospital was also a recipient of some of the city's HIV funds that are no more.

"I'm hopeful that the funds will still come to the region so we'll be able to continue doing the work that they have been doing," said Dr. Ann Avery, the director of Metro Health's division of infectious diseases.

If that's not the case, Metro Health is still dedicated to still helping their 1,700 patients living with AIDS and HIV.

"We're fortunate that at least we will continue to provide those services regardless of funding by shutting things around and using internal sources as we need to," said Dr. Avery.

The state says Cleveland scored well below what's required to keep their funding and they didn't fix their "performance deficiencies."