Thanks to the economic downturn and the attitude that AIDS is no longer a crisis, AIDS fundraising is down nationwide. As a result, in recent years national groups such as the Ryan White Foundation and the National Task Force for AIDS Prevention have closed, and others are cutting programs to stay afloat. That trend hit Seattle last month with the announcement that Lifelong AIDS Alliance (formerly the Northwest AIDS Alliance and Chicken Soup Brigade) will not be able to grant money this year to local AIDS organizations.

"We saw a significant drop in funding over the last six months," says Chuck Kuehn, executive director of Lifelong AIDS Alliance (LAA). Kuehn cites drops in revenue from telefunding campaigns and lower attendance at fundraisers.

"It didn't make sense to support other organizations when we needed funding to support our own programs," Kuehn explains. LAA's services include case management, home chore assistance, housing, and transportation.

The grants LAA made last year--to agencies like the BABES Network, In Touch, and the 45th Street Clinic--totaled $259,000.

With grant money running out, many smaller organizations are struggling to make ends meet.

One organization likely to take a hit is In Touch, a local program that relies on grant money to provide massage services for people with AIDS and other chronic illnesses. Money from LAA supplied nearly one-sixth of In Touch's $60,000 annual budget, and LAA still donates office space.

"We need to raise $30,000 in order to survive," says Raven Gildea, In Touch program coordinator.

"[LAA] supported us for as long as they could," says Jesse Chipps, executive director of the BABES Network, a peer-support network for women with HIV. "I don't think it's anything LAA did lightly; it's a pretty desperate situation."

LAA will reevaluate their budget at the end of the year.

"There is a good possibility that many organizations will fold by then," Gildea says.

Support The Stranger