The District needs to expand its support services to people with AIDS to include a broader cross-section of the community, speakers urged at a public hearing yesterday.
Representatives from more than 50 groups testified at the four-hour District Building hearing, held by Mayor-Elect Sharon Pratt Dixon's transition task group on AIDS services.
Among those who spoke were members of Enlace, a gay Hispanic group; Health Care for the Homeless, which operates several shelter clinics; and Liberation of Ex-Offenders Through Employment Opportunities (LEEO), a job-training and work program.
"Funds do not reach deep enough into the African-American community," said Rainey Cheeks, of Us Helping Us, a privately funded support group that offers alternative and holistic care to persons infected with the AIDS virus.
"You need to investigate the programs that the District government now funds to see if indeed they are reaching the black community," said Aundrea Scott, of the African-American Collective.
Denise Rouse, of the D.C. Women's Council on AIDS, said small organizations needed technical assistance in applying for funds, and pleaded for an educational campaign aimed at women, both gay and heterosexual. She also said physicians need to be educated about the signs of the infection and the risk factors for women.
Martin Hiraga, of the Asian AIDS Prevention Projection, identified himself as "the only outreach worker in the Pacific Asian community," and urged that the new mayor's administration fund programs aimed at his community and managed by Asians.
The Rev. Stanley R. King, of LEEO, described prison inmates as "twelve thousand people who, at one time, will return to the community," and noted that some were participating in unsafe sexual activities while in prison. "There's a need for a deliberate plan of education and action dealing with the incarcerated," he said.
Several representatives complained that the city's funding process for organizations was extremely slow and made it difficult for small organizations to exist.
Public Health Commissioner Georges C. Benjamin agreed that the procedure is "cumbersome." Benjamin said streamlining the process and attending to personnel problems were his top priorities.
The transition group, which is headed by Jim Graham, administrator of Whitman-Walker Clinic, and Celia Maxwell, associate director of HIV services at Howard University Hospitial, will present its final proposal for action to Dixon tomorrow.