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April 24, 2009

DC Councilman Accuses HIV Clinic of Neglecting Gays

Washington, DC, City Council member David A. Catania has criticized the Whitman-Walker Clinic, an AIDS service organization, with turning its back on the city’s gay community in efforts to become a full-service health care provider, The Washington Post reports.

According to the article, Whitman-Walker attributes its own evolution to the changing face of HIV/AIDS. When the virus first appeared in the 1980s, it primarily affected white men who have sex with men (MSM), but now the epidemic is citywide. According to recent report, at least 3 percent of DC residents are HIV positive.

“We see a whole bunch of people in the District of Columbia—gay, straight, black, white—now at risk, and our job is…to retool how we talk about this,” said Donald Blanchon, the CEO of Whitman-Walker.

Councilman Catania charges that Blanchon—Whitman-Walker’s first heterosexual director—has mismanaged the clinic since he took office in 2006, citing financial issues compounded by a 57 percent drop in fund-raising since Blanchon took the helm. In addition, Catania claims that Whitman-Walker has marginalized or eliminated many of its programs and services targeting the gay community.

“No one is suggesting you can’t expand the mission of the clinic to the non-GLBT community, but what many of us feel is happening is in the effort to expand, that is really just a guise…that the real intent is to extinguish the GLBT influence,” Catania said.

Search: Whitman-Walker, Washington, DC,

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