Publicly funded AIDS services in Los Angeles County remain disproportionately concentrated in Anglo communities despite the steady spread of the disease among blacks, Latinos and Asians, two county advisory boards reported Tuesday.
The Human Relations Commission and the Commission on AIDS called on the Board of Supervisors and Department of Health Services to decentralize their AIDS programs in order to better serve the minority and lower-income neighborhoods that increasingly need them most.
"I will long remember (recent testimony about) AIDS-infected individuals . . . languishing and dying in back bedrooms of their homes essentially because there are not adequate services being rendered to them," Rabbi Allen Freehling, AIDS Commission chairman, said Tuesday.
The commissions also called for increased funding for groups providing AIDS services to minority communities, development of bilingual and culturally sensitive educational materials and recruitment and training of professionals able to offer bilingual services.
The recommendations came in a 16-page report on the impact of AIDS among blacks, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County. The report was based on testimony taken during a hearing last September held by the two advisory groups.
The report cited numerous ways in which minority group members have limited access to services. Among them:
- People with AIDS or AIDS-related infections are expected to travel long distances for treatment at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, yet many have no cars and poor access to public transportation to and from the hospital.
- There is no central location where minority group members with AIDS can go for education, treatment, advocacy and other services. The single organization devoted exclusively to minority AIDS services is located far from many of the most populous minority communities.
- AIDS service groups run by Anglos have little knowledge of respected minority community organizations, leaders and medical professionals, witnesses testified. They called for separate organizations and programs to serve minority-group needs.
Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders represent approximately 31% of the diagnosed AIDS cases and 45% of the population of Los Angeles County, commission officials said. They said the comparable national figures are 40% of AIDS cases and 18% of the population.