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County Gets $1.2-Million AIDS Grant


Orange County has received a $1.2-million federal grant earmarked for services to people with AIDS, including home health care and services for women and African Americans, the head of the county HIV Planning Advisory Council said Friday.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced the awards on Thursday. They totaled $322.6 million nationwide; of that, $160 million went to 34 cities and counties hardest hit by acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Orange County last May reported 2,725 cases.

"You can always use more, but I think that what we've done is made plans to put the money to use in the best way possible and make sure that it's used in the most cost-effective manner," said Pearl Jemison-Smith, chairwoman of the 40-member HIV Planning Advisory Council. HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

The funds stem from the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990, named after the youth whose struggle with AIDS discrimination captured national attention. In December, 34 cities and counties were granted money based on their numbers of AIDS cases; Orange County received $1.4 million.

Orange County became eligible for the program in 1992, when it recorded its 2,000th AIDS case. The Board of Supervisors set up the HIV Planning Advisory Council to advise the county health officer on HIV and AIDS issues.

The county has started to reach out to Latinos and to inform people with AIDS of available services, Jemison-Smith said. The new money will be used to start a similar program for African Americans. A portion of it will go toward a contract with UC Irvine for primary care services for all AIDS patients and gynecological services for women.

The county is seeing more Latinos, African Americans, women and intravenous drug users with the disease, she said, and the grant should help to serve those people better.

"We definitely are looking at where the needs are and trying to be culturally sensitive and gender sensitive," she said. "It is changing. It continues to be a disease affecting gay men, although we're seeing more gay men of color. We're certainly seeing more Latinos."

Priscilla Munro, executive director of the AIDS Service Foundation of Orange County, said the Ryan White money is crucial to the county's services for people with AIDS. Munro's agency is the single largest recipient in the county of the Ryan White funds.

The agency will receive $100,000 of the $1.2 million awarded Thursday, and that money will go toward home care for people with AIDS, Munro said.

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