The Human Rights Campaign recently applauded the Bush
administration’s decision to increase spending in its proposed budget for
key programs that will help people living with HIV and AIDS.
“We commend the Bush administration for increasing funds for
research at the National Institutes of Health at a time when the AIDS
epidemic is exacting an enormous toll on peoples’ lives both nationally and
globally,” said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. “We look forward
to examining the budget in-depth as more details become available. But the
initial view of the budget appears favorable in certain areas.”
However, with a $2.1 billion increase for public health programs and $2.8
billion earmarked for the NIH, some cuts will need to be made to other
public health programs in order to balance the books, says HRC.
“We’re concerned that there could be cuts to HIV/AIDS programs
because the budget doesn’t even mention HIV/AIDS programs within HHS,” said
Stachelberg. “There is no discussion of HIV prevention despite 40,000 new
HIV infections each year, half of which occur in people under the age of 25.
Nor is there mention of the Ryan White CARE Act, reauthorized last year with
The administration’s budget also calls for increases for Housing
Opportunities for People With AIDS. This vital program provides shelter to
people living with HIV/AIDS to help keep these individuals from being
exposed to other life-threatening diseases, poor nutrition and lack of
medical care, which can lead to premature death.
It is estimated that up to 60 percent of people living with HIV and
AIDS will need housing assistance at some point in the course of their
illness. According to the National AIDS Housing Coalition, one-third to
one-half of all people with AIDS are either homeless or in imminent danger
of losing their homes.
The budget also includes $124 million more in funding for Community
Health Centers, which provide health care in medically underserved areas
throughout the United States. These centers serve many clients who are
living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the administration’s budget offers more
money to fight the international spread of HIV.
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