Thursday, October 31, 2013

Outcome of SF HIV Councils' Votes to Merge?

Earlier this week, I blogged about an upcoming vote at the San Francisco HIV Health Services Planning Council during a joint meeting with the HIV Prevention Planning Council on Monday to merge into a single council. More than one-hundred members of the councils, assorted staffers from the Department of Public Health and AIDS Inc groups, along with a few members of the general public were in attendance during the three hours I was present.

During public comment, at which I was the only person with AIDS to speak, I argued for merging the councils to make it easier for PWAs to attend meetings and lessen our meeting-burdens as we juggle doctor visits, picking up prescriptions and alternative healing appointments. With dwindling dollars from federal agencies, the councils need to show PWAs and at-risk populations that council members are doing all they can to diminish duplication of services and reduce overhead costs.

During the presentation by Michael DeMayo, longtime consultant to the councils, and CARE Council members Laura Thomas and Andrew Lopez, it was clear what they were outlining regarding the nuts-and-bolts of a merger would greatly benefit consumers of prevention and treatment programs in San Francisco. 

Check out the proposal here.

They also said something I was unaware of that is San Francisco is one of the very few areas with two councils, and that lots of cities and counties years ago merged councils without disruption of services. Instead of being a leader, San Francisco is sorely lacking in terms of integrating these decision-making bodies and improving services for consumers.

The prevention council has already voted in favor of merging, but on Monday night the CARE Council rejected the proposal to merge. The motion needed a two-thirds majority to pass but with 14 yes votes, 10 no votes and 2 abstentions the motion didn't pass.

Make no mistake. The CARE Council's rejection of the proposal harms PWAs. It will take more time and attending lots of additional meetings, but I believe in the long run San Francisco two panels are eventually going to become one.

Many thanks to the prevention council members who endorsed merging and to the 14 members of the CARE Council who voted yes. You did the right thing.

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