AIDS group cites an ‘HIV crisis’ in Dallas County

In News by AHF

To draw attention to its ongoing funding fight with Dallas County, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation bought a highly visible advertisement Thursday that declared a local “HIV crisis.”

The group placed a sticker ad on the front page of The Dallas Morning News urging readers to contact County Judge Clay Jenkins about the so-called crisis. It alleged a lack of treatment for 7,565 HIV-infected residents and accused the county of “unfair dealings” with AIDS service providers.

Jenkins could not be reached for comment Thursday. Zachary Thompson, director of the county Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment.

Dallas County has the highest HIV-infection rate in the state — 31.4 cases per 100,000 population in 2013, the most recent year available. Countywide, 768 new diagnoses were reported two years ago for a total of 15,403 residents living with HIV.

Last March, the foundation filed a lawsuit against the county, its health department and Thompson seeking funding for HIV/AIDS services it would provide this year. The group was recommended to receive $1.2 million as part of the county’s funding review process, according to the foundation. However, the group received nothing and the dispute went to mediation, which began Thursday.

Foundation leaders accused the county of changing the application process in an effort to keep the group from being compensated for the care it would provide this year. It claimed to be treating 624 patients locally and says the number has grown to about 1,200 now.

“As one of the largest providers of HIV/AIDS care in Dallas County, [the foundation] was left with no alternative but to seek judicial remedy in our pursuit of a fair and transparent bidding and scoring process,” said Bret Camp, the foundation’s Texas regional director.

The foundation is known for filing lawsuits whenever funding becomes an issue as it opens clinics around the county. In 2013, it successfully sued Tarrant County to claim about $300,000 in AIDS funding. The group then opened a clinic on the Medical City Dallas campus and has added a pharmacy in Oak Lawn in the past year.

To draw attention to its current fight, the foundation decided to spend about $21,000 on the sticker ads, which will run for three days in The News.

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