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Local and Community News

Milwaukee: County Plan to Cut Funds for AIDS Prevention Ripped

September 30, 2002

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's plan to cut $230,000 for AIDS prevention from next year's budget was blasted yesterday at the 13th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin. "How can he say he's for reducing taxes and then cut needle exchange, which will increase the tax burden by millions of dollars as the number of HIV patients on county medical care skyrockets?" asked Doug Nelson, director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Citing statistics from the state Department of Health and Family Services, Nelson said the number of new HIV cases connected to drug use in Wisconsin has been reduced from about 80 a year to 26 since needle exchange programs began in 1994.

County money is not used to buy needles for the program, which began in 2000, but it does pay to staff an AIDS prevention program that provides clean needles. In announcing the proposed cut last week, Walker said he did not like the idea of using "tax dollars to support illegal activity." In an interview Sunday, Walker said he did not consider AIDS prevention "a core function of the county. It probably would be better addressed by the city or the state health department." The only reason the county has been involved in AIDS prevention, he said, "was politically at the time, there was the least resistance to the needle program at the county level because not many people paid too much attention to what the county was doing." At seven recent hearings on his proposed budget, Walker said, "we didn't hear from any masses of people saying, 'Don't cut this particular program.'" But in an interview after his pre-walk speech, Nelson maintained that Walker, "who got elected on a taxpayers' revolt," was being fiscally shortsighted.

Sunday's AIDS walks in Milwaukee and Madison attracted about 5,000 participants. They raised $552,107 for AIDS care and research, compared to $621,000 last year, said walk spokesperson Bob Schwoch.

Back to other CDC news for September 30, 2002

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Adapted from:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
09.29.02; Lawrence Sussman


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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