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Whitman-Walker Clinic To Expand Medical, Social Service Programs

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinicon Thursday announced that it plans to expand its medical and socialservice programs for people living with HIV/AIDS while making effortsto become a comprehensive health care center, the Washington Postreports. The clinic will reform its social service programs in aneffort to better meet its clients' health needs, as well as launch apublic awareness campaign aimed at high-risk groups in the area.According to the Post, up to one-fourth of Whitman-Walker's 240-person staff will be reassigned or let go.

"Weplan to return to aggressive grassroots outreach in high-riskcommunities," Whitman-Walker Executive Director Donald Blanchon said,adding, "We want to be on the right street corners with the rightinformation addressing people who are truly at risk." The awarenesscampaign -- called Project Red for reach, education and decrease --will target black men, women younger than age 40, minority men who havesex with men and MSM younger than age 25. The first advertisement willrun on Friday with the headline "change or perish." The ad also saysthat the "status quo isn't working. If we don't change how we dothings, more area residents will die."

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The announcement comes as Whitman-Walker is attempting to attract more clients while "recovering from a budget crisis that forced deep cuts and layoffs in 2005," the Postreports. The clinic in 2007 ended the year with a deficit of about$300,000, compared with a $950,000 deficit two years ago. According toBlanchon, not enough financial progress has been made forWhitman-Walker to be financially viable.

The changes toWhitman-Walker also are a reflection of the health issues -- includingosteoporosis and heart disease -- that face long-term HIV/AIDSsurvivors, according to the Post. In addition, the changes are an attempt to respond to the HIV/AIDS situation in the district. Blanchon noted a recent report by the district's HIV/AIDS Administration that highlights the effect of the disease on the city's black community.

Whitman-Walkerexpects to provide care for more than 13,000 clients this year at itsthree locations in the district and Northern Virginia (Levine, Washington Post, 1/11).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.