MAP closes: Where do we go from here?
Posted on 29 Oct 2009 by Matt Comer
Metrolina AIDS Project’s offices at 127 Scaleybark Rd; photo: Matt Comer
On Oct. 23, the board of Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP) announced they’d voted to shut down the nearly 25-year-old HIV/AIDS service organization. Over at my day job as editor of Q-Notes, Charlotte’s LGBT newspaper, I was frantically trying to keep up with the story as it broke last week.
There’s no need to go into the details of the closure here. That’ll surely play out in local media in the days to come. Further, the nitty-gritty of the who, what, when and why leading to the organization’s closing are likely not of much concern for many of Charlotte’s HIV-positive individuals and their families. I can imagine that their most pressing concern will be what they’ll do and where they’ll turn once MAP finally ceases operations — a date that has not yet been determined.
Founded by six gay men in the height of the AIDS crisis in 1985, MAP grew in size, budget and services to become the area’s largest AIDS service organization — the single-most important source of support and case management for people living with virus. Filling the void left by MAP’s departure will prove a difficult challenge for all sorts of organizations and leaders across Mecklenburg County.
Although there are several businesses in the area offering case management and HIV/AIDS treatment, only one other non-profit organization, the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN), is offering the same sort of case management for which MAP had become the go-to local organization. The Regional HIV/AIDS Consortium offers testing, counseling and support. Belmont’s House of Mercy offers housing and intensive medical care to those living with advanced AIDS.
And while it is great the community has other resources, especially RAIN, you kind of have to wonder if these groups will be able to take in and adequately care for all of MAP’s displaced clients.
The Rev. Debbie Warren, RAIN’s executive director, told Q-Notes that her organization was preparing for an influx of new clients and strategizing on how best to keep folks from falling through the cracks.
“We’d certainly not like to see any big gaps,” she said, adding that her organization had already discussed with the county health department their “willingness to work with the health department and the HIV/AIDS staff members over there in any way that is needed to help respond to the consumers who are going to be needing to move their services over to RAIN or to the health department or to another organization in town.
Unfortunately, I see the bulk of responsibility likely falling on the shoulders of the Mecklenburg County government. MAP’s closure couldn’t come a worse time for clients, other non-profit groups or county agencies. In our current economic downtown, everyone is facing tighter budgets and reduced spending.
It’ll be interesting to see how the MAP closure is dealt with by local elected officials, health department officials, non-profit leaders, LGBT community organizations and area businesses serving those with HIV and AIDS.