HRC Praises Bush Administration’s Proposed Budget Increases That Will Help People Living With HIV/AIDS

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

bipartisan support.”

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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