PATERSON, NJ - The city health division is getting $4.1 million in federal funding  under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, a 10-percent increase compared to last year, according to a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Hundres of people living with HIV or AIDS will get services under the grant, including medical, dental, mental health, case management, transportation, housing assistance, food, and legal services.

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"It's phenomenal, and we greatly appreciate Congressman Pascrell's strong advocacy to get resources for this vital program," said Donna Nelson-Ivy, director of the Paterson Health and Human Services Department, in the press release. Nelson-Ivy said she expected the funding to serve the same amount of people as last year, and could surpass it. Last year's allocation of $3,755,785 served 1,358 people. The city's health division administers funding to agencies in Paterson, elsewhere in Passaic County and Bergen County.

"People diagnosed with HIV or AIDS can be left unable to work and without health care coverage, making a difficult circumstance even more difficult," said Pascrell, a former Paterson mayor who served as chairman of the Paterson-Passaic-Bergen HIV Planning Council during the early years of the Ryan White Program. "This funding will help people in Paterson and throughout Passaic and Bergen counties get the help and the care they need. I am grateful for the Administration's grant award, as well as for the City of Paterson's implementation of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program."

New Jersey has the fifth-largest HIV/AIDS epidemic in the nation, and Passaic County has the third-highest number of reported cases in the state, according to the press release.

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program works with cities, states and local community-based organizations to provide HIV-related services to more than a half a million people each year, according to Pascrell's staff. The program is for those who do not have sufficient health care coverage or financial resources for coping with HIV disease.  

Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS at age 13. He and his mother, Jeanne White Ginder, fought for his right to attend school, gaining international attention as a voice of reason about HIV/AIDS. Ryan White died at the age of 18 on April 8, 1990, just months before Congress passed the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act. The legislation has been reauthorized four times, most recently in 2009, and is now called the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.