Amy McMahon wasn't expecting the call she got from the Ohio Department of Health on Feb. 28. The CEO of Stop AIDS Cincinnati
got one day's notice before the ODH announced to other organizations
that the 28-year-old Cincinnati non-profit would not be eligible for
$700,000 of federal money awarded for AIDS case management and
The CEO of Stop AIDS had received no notice of a change in criteria that
disqualified her non-profit from applying for federal Ryan White Part B
funding, money targeted to help treat and manage cases of HIV-positive
clients. The agency has received this type of federal support, known as Ryan White Part B funding
, for 20 years.
"It was a bit of a rude awakening," says McMahon, who has led Stop AIDS
since 2008. Stop AIDS, formerly known as AVOC, had completed the state's
request for proposal, which McMahon says did not mention any change in
funding criteria. But an e-mail message from the ODH was clear: "HIV
Care Services at ODH will no longer be able to continue to provide
funding for Stop AIDS." The message from Katherine Shumate, ODH's Ryan
White Part B Program Administrator, cited an audit statement about
"substantial doubt about the Organization's ability to continue as a
McMahon could not understand the new ODH decision. "The services of Stop
AIDS were used by the ODH as a model," she says. "Staff was asked to
present at conferences and do training for other staffs."
Still, when she learned of the state's decision, McMahon had to act
quickly. She let staff and board members know that Stop AIDS had one
month to figure out how services to close to 1,000 HIV-positive clients
could continue without interruption.
A solution emerged when sister agency Caracole
which has helped find safe, affordable housing and support for people
with HIV and AIDS for 24 years, received most of the Ryan White funds
that Stop AIDS was not eligible for. This increased the rolls of
Caracole from 240 to close to 1,000 individuals.
"I'm so glad that Caracole is getting them," says David White, Stop
AIDS' community investment coordinator. Caracole has already hired
several Stop AIDS case managers. In as many cases as possible, they will
stay with clients they served via Stop AIDS, which will continue to
offer free HIV testing and education and outreach with a different set
McMahon and the remaining Stop AIDS staff plan to regroup and refocus in
the wake of losing what amounted to almost half of their operating
budget, while working with Caracole to try to provide stability in the
HIV and AIDS treatment and education community.
• Help Stop AIDS
Whether you make a monetary or in-kind contribution, every dollar
counts. Stop AIDS provides education to more than 20,000 people and free
HIV testing to more than 3,000 people every year.
• Support Caracole
. Make a donation to help Caracole provide an expanded level of services to an expanded number of clients.
• Send a letter
Let lawmakers know that abrupt funding cuts for social services have
consequences that can impact the most vulnerable members of our
By Elissa Yancey