WASHINGTON – Baltimore City has been awarded more than $21 million in federal grants to continue providing medical care to low-income residents with HIV/AIDS, city and federal officials announced Wednesday.
The grant, funded through the Ryan White Care Act, is about $3.5 million more than last year’s award and the largest increase the city has received since 1999, according to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.
City and state officials and community organizations attribute the jump in funding to the clear need in the city, expressed through a grant request that was the result of extensive collaboration among the groups.
“We really highlighted that we have an epidemic that hits specific populations,” said Cyd Lacanienta, the CEO of Intergroup Services, which worked with the Greater Baltimore HIV Health Services Planning Council on the grant.
“We have a disproportionate amount of our folks coming from the African- American community,” she said.
Roughly 80 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases in Baltimore are among African Americans, according to the 2002 report by the Maryland AIDS Administration. Over half of the total cases in the state are in Baltimore.
Of 51 cities that got grants, Baltimore received the sixth-highest total award this year, although it had one of the lowest total populations among the top recipients, which included cities like New York, Los Angeles and Houston.
Lacanienta said that a large coalition of organizations helped develop the request, which described how the city could get more people under its service umbrella with the additional federal funding.
The new funds should help the program attract individuals who would not normally seek care, and people who have other conditions, like homelessness and substance abuse, that affect care, she said.
The grants are divided into three parts: supplemental and formula grants and minority AIDS initiative grants. The formula grants are based on the number of people in the city living with the AIDS virus. Minority grants are based on the minority HIV/AIDS population.
The supplemental grants, where Baltimore saw its greatest increase this year, are based on each city’s expressed need. Supplemental funding jumped 37 percent this year for Baltimore, compared to 2.4 percent in 2002.
The funding will be used to provide primary care and mental health services, housing assistance and medication for infected individuals. In Baltimore, roughly 9,000 individuals were served by the grant in 2001, according to statistics provided by the Baltimore Health Department.
Carol Christmyer, the deputy director of the Maryland AIDS Administration, agreed that with the combination of the city’s funds and the grant the state will receive in a few weeks, officials can continue to provide the care so many individuals need.
“Twenty-one million dollars is a lot of money, and we do need the money to provide care for our citizens,” she said.