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Local HIV/AIDS agencies fight for life as state, federal aid falls

The system of HIV/AIDS care in Sonoma County has been buffeted by financial challenges.

The amount of money flowing into the county from the federal government and the state has been cut by at least $1.7 million.

Funds from the state to the county and independent providers for treatment, care, prevention and testing fell from $2 million in fiscal year 2008 to $1.3 million last fiscal year. For the county alone, funds for prevention and testing have dropped from $586,000 in 2005 to $180,000 this year.

"I don't think it's catastrophic and yet it's a huge impact," said Linda Albertson, former chairwoman of the county's Commission on Aids.

The county-run HIV Clinic in Santa Rosa, operated since 1988, closed in 2010, displacing the 604 patients seen there.

Face to Face lost $500,000 in funding and laid off eight staffers.

The county's only food bank for HIV/AIDS patients, Food for Thought, lost $140,000 in annual funding, even as the number of customers grew.

"It's really put a lot of pressure on us," said Ron Karp, executive director the food bank, which serves 650 clients and now depends on private fundraising, food and cash drives and reserve funds.

Sunburst Projects, which works with families and children infected or affected by the disease, closed its county office.

-- Jeremy Hay

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