September 22, 2011
Washington, D.C. -- Yesterday, amidst a very challenging budgetary environment, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations measure for Fiscal Year 2012. While overall spending in the bill was cut by over $300 million compared to last year, most domestic HIV/AIDS programs were flat funded, including HIV prevention at the CDC and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) did receive an increase of $15 million for a total of $900 million.
"While we appreciate Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin's effort to preserve existing programs, our Nation is not going to reduce new HIV infections or provide adequate care and treatment to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS without new resources," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director, The AIDS Institute. "This is extremely disappointing since we have the drugs to keep people alive, the knowledge that treatment is prevention, along with a number of other tools that help prevent HIV, and the leadership by the Obama Administration as detailed in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Without the necessary resources, the goals of the Strategy will not be achieved, and thousands of more people in the United States will needlessly become infected with HIV."
There are currently over 8,800 people in ten states on ADAP waiting lists and over 445 people in six states who have been disenrolled from the program due to budget constraints and the growing number of people enrolling in ADAP. The $15 million increase proposed by the Subcommittee can reduce the waiting list by only about 1,300, or just 15 percent. The AIDS Institute and its partners have been advocating for an increase of at least $106 million. The President has requested a $55 million increase. "As the bill moves through the Congress, we will be urging all parties to match at least the President's request," added Schmid.
The Committee is proposing to flat fund HIV prevention programs at the CDC despite an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year and over 230,000 people unaware of their infection. The U.S. government invests only about 3 percent of its HIV funding in prevention, which is woefully inadequate, considering that the lifetime cost of caring and treating one person with HIV is approximately $360,000. In order to help achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce the number of new infections and increase testing levels by 2015, the President has proposed an increase of $57 million in FY12. The AIDS Institute will continue to advocate for at least the President's requested level.
The AIDS Institute is pleased the Committee is proposing an increase of $10 million for Hepatitis screening by the CDC, which is a long overdue increase for the Hepatitis Division. However, medical research at the National Institutes of Health would receive a decrease of $190 million under the Committee bill.
"As this bill moves through the House and Senate, The AIDS Institute will continue to urge the Congress to adequately fund all parts of the Ryan White Program and provide additional resources for HIV prevention," concluded Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.
The House of Representatives has not taken any action on its version of the bill. Fiscal Year 2012 begins on October 1, 2011. Since Congress has not passed any spending measures, it is expected that these programs will continue to operate under a short term continuing resolution.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee also voted to cut funding to the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program by $4.3 million and global AIDS programs.