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AIDS Groups Expand Services to Other Sufferers

"If we had not made this transition, we probably would not have survived," he said. "A lot of smaller [AIDS] organizations have failed because they were unable to keep abreast of change or adapt to the landscape."

AIDS groups say that expansion has helped them shore up sagging fundraising efforts.

Maritza Sanson, who is recovering from breast cancer, places the meal delivery from Food & Friends into the refrigerator. With her is husband Luis Fernando Hurtado. (Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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"There is an awful lot of donor fatigue on AIDS," said Mike Smith, executive director of the AIDS Emergency Fund in San Francisco, which expanded to include breast cancer patients a few years ago. Since then, it has received tens of thousands of dollars from such groups as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Some groups are looking abroad, where the international AIDS crisis is drawing more attention -- and dollars -- than the domestic AIDS situation.

Next year, for example, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation in Los Angeles expects that its funds going to international AIDS initiatives will jump from 10 percent to 25 percent of its budget, said Executive Director Catherine Brown.

The group operates programs in Latin America and the Caribbean to work with children affected by AIDS. It plans to expand to up to a dozen countries.

Noting that an estimated 13 million children worldwide have been orphaned by AIDS, Brown said her group couldn't look away.

"You can't be in pediatric HIV/AIDS and have that as your mission and ignore what's going on internationally," Brown said.

At Food & Friends, expanding its mission also caused some strife -- internally and externally.

The local ACT UP chapter has objected to the changeover. Spokesman Wayne Turner said Food & Friends' move is "an embodiment of what is happening with [AIDS] charities around the country. These groups that were formed to meet the specific needs of people with AIDS have become monsters."

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