Proposed budget cuts may be impacting those who live with HIV and AIDS, leading many to protest in front of City Hall Tuesday. NY1’s Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
About 100 HIV-positive people put their pain on display in front of City Hall Tuesday in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed cuts to services that they depend upon.
"I find that to be devastating," said Doug Collins, an HIV-positive individual present at the rally.
Collins found out he was HIV-positive last year, which was also around the time he lost his job and his home.
Now he’s worried about losing his case manager to budget cuts, the point person in a support system he said keeps him alive.
"It makes me feel that the government is no longer recognizing me as a human being," said Collins.
He joined protesters marching to a City Council budget hearing on the subject.
"We’ve been through this last year, again this year," said City Councilman Dominic Recchia Jr. "It’s not the area to cut. We’re dealing with people’s lives."
"This cut amounts to $9.7 million,” said Robert Doar, Human Resources Administration commissioner. “That’s 2.3 percent cut."
The mayor’s budget calls for cuts to three areas of HIV/AIDS services. The biggest reduction eliminates some case workers, bringing the ratio of one worker for every 20 clients to one in 34.
Another reduction eliminates contracts for case managers from the Gay Men's Health Crisis, and a third eliminates a program designed to give out nutritional guidance.
Bloomberg said state and federal budget reductions are forcing his hand.
Doar said the cuts are in administration where redundancies exist and that services will continue.
"We don’t think it’s going to diminish the services we provide in a significant way,” said Doar. “If we thought it would, we wouldn’t propose it. This is a population we care about."
Some local lawmakers said they want to restore the funding cuts to the budget.