New Jersey: AIDS Advocates Facing Threat of Funding Cuts
September 15, 2006
State and local AIDS advocates lobbied Congress this week not to cut New Jersey's portion of Ryan White funding for low-income HIV/AIDS patient services when the act is reauthorized.
Ryan White's congressional reauthorization process is so multifaceted that it is too early to determine exactly how New Jersey and local areas would fare, said Eddy Bresnitz, deputy commissioner for the Department of Health and Senior Services.
"The proposed legislation, if enacted, will translate into huge financial losses for New Jersey, from which the state may never recover," Gov. Jon Corzine wrote in a June letter to federal legislators.
Local advocates and service providers are not waiting on the sidelines of the legislative process, but rather have petitioned New Jersey's congressional delegation to oppose Ryan White cuts to the state, said Karen Walker, director of HIV services at Paterson Counseling Center.
A delegation from Bergen and Passaic counties, where 3,917 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported, visited Washington on Sept. 11 to plead for continued Ryan White funding for N.J. patient social and medical services, which totaled $4.2 million last year. Local advocates predicted the current proposal would cut 40 percent from their allocations reducing them, to about $2.4 million for fiscal 2006-07, which begins Oct. 1.
With a shift towards funding medical services, the federal proposal could mean 22 Passaic and Bergen area agencies would have to cut or shut down non-medical services, advocates said. Areas with emerging or growing epidemics are also in competition for the same Ryan White funding, for which federal officials must decide allocation criteria. "They're trying to take the same pot of money and spread it thinner," said Walker.
"New Jersey has the highest percentage of women infected and the highest percentage of intravenous drug users," said Walker. "It isn't as simple as just going to the doctors. They need transportation to get to the doctors, they need substance abuse treatment. They need mental health treatment."
The Record (Bergen County)
09.14.2006; Alexander MacInnes
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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.