AIDS Activists Criticize $25,000 Retreat Sponsored by Los Angeles County HIV Commission
AIDS activists have raised concerns about a two-day, $25,000 retreat on AIDS funding held last week by the Los Angeles Commission on HIV Health Services, two days after county supervisors "slashed" funds for tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze reports. The 49-member commission held the annual retreat on Thursday and Friday at a waterfront hotel in Redondo Beach. AIDS activists said that the retreat "sends the wrong message" at a time when budget reductions have led to the closure of clinics and the elimination of services; the Board of Supervisors last week eliminated $400,000 in contracts with clinics that provide STD tests and treatment to address a budget deficit. "They're telling people that clinics for people with HIV may be cut back, but then they're sending a bloated commission ... to a hotel," Miki Jackson, a consultant for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said. One member of the commission, Genevieve Clavreul, also criticized the cost of the retreat and said that she plans to reimburse the county for her hotel accommodations and meals. "I'm appalled. We could have spent that $25,000 on care, care for which the county would not have to pay," she said.
However, several members of the commission defended the annual retreat. They said that the federal government provided the funds used to cover the cost of retreat and that the funds "could not have been used to save" the contracts eliminated last week. Commissioners -- who do not receive payment from the county for their service -- added that the retreat allows members to develop their annual work plan on HIV/AIDS (Zahniser, Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze, 11/14). The commission faced criticism earlier this year after supervisors requested an audit of the county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. The HIV Commission serves as the legislative body for the office (California Healthline, 8/20). Supervisors had questioned whether OAPP Director Chuck Henry had a conflict of interest because he also served as head of the commission, which determines the distribution of federal and state funds (California Healthline, 8/9). The county auditor-controller issued a report earlier this year that found "at least the appearance of conflicts of interest" among the commission (Rester, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.