President's Budget Presents Mixed Bag on HIV/AIDS

President Bush's budget proposal released on February 6th
presents a mixed bag on HIV/AIDS with modest funding increases in care
and treatment programs, additional cuts in Medicaid, and a dangerous
increase in abstinence only programs that keep thorough, scientific
information out of the hands of those who need it most.

"For the sake of hundreds of thousands of Americans living with HIV and
AIDS, we can and we must do more," said Human Rights Campaign President
Joe Solmonese. "We welcome the President's attention to the critical
needs facing HIV/AIDS programs, yet the new funding does not make up for
the years of shortcomings and huge proposed cuts that may harm
beneficiaries in other areas."

The largest proposed HIV/AIDS increase is for the President's $188
million domestic AIDS initiative with money split between the Ryan White
CARE Act and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We need a comprehensive and targeted strategy to combat this virus –
particularly in at-risk communities and among people of color," said
Solmonese. "Attention to this continually growing trend is long
overdue."

There are more African Americans among new AIDS cases, people estimated
to be living with AIDS, and HIV-related deaths than any other racial or
ethnic group in the U.S.

Among the President's proposals:

  • Medicaid – our nation's largest provider of HIV/AIDS treatment and
    care – would face cuts of $5 billion over 5 years and $12 billion over
    10 years forcing those trimmed from Medicaid rolls to seek care through
    programs that are already overextended and under-funded.

  • The President's budget also proposes cutting $15 million in AIDS
    research at the National Institutes of Health and increases
    abstinence-only education funding by $28 million.

  • State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) would receive $70 million
    under the President's plan to ease the waiting lists forced by budgetary
    pressures.

  • The Housing for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program would receive a
    welcomed increase of $14 million – yet short of what is necessary to
    meet the program's needs.

"As the process moves forward we urge Congress to strengthen Medicaid
instead of weaken it, and put sound science over ideology in educational
programs," added Solmonese.

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