California: AIDS Groups Press State for Meth Funds
May 1, 2006
A group of California AIDS agencies is asking state lawmakers to allocate $7.5 million to respond to methamphetamine's role in HIV transmission among gay men. However, a recent Assembly budget subcommittee failed to act on the funding proposal, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Legislative (LGBT) Caucus is ambivalent in its support.
Assembly member John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Budget Committee chair and LGBT Caucus member, said he was working to restore $5.6 million in HIV prevention funds that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget proposal did not provide. "If we put another $7 million on top of that it may be too big a hill to climb in a budget with a $5 billion deficit problem."
Schwarzenegger is seeking more funds for law enforcement related to meth.
"It is not a question of commitment," said Laird. "It is what is the best strategy to address the problem? I think there needs to be a broader attack on meth statewide and HIV needs to be a designated piece of it. If the only thing the governor got in his budget was more enforcement and meth prevention related just to HIV, I just don't think it would survive."
"What I have suggested to some of the advocates, and what I had understood our caucus might be able to support," said Assembly member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), "is if we could package the request in such a way so it is not just for gay men but would benefit a broader constituency, clearly the meth epidemic is impacting rural districts as well as urban districts, so we could build a coalition."
The AIDS agencies are open to including in the request others impacted by meth, as well ask asking for the allocation to go to the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs rather than to the state Office of AIDS, said Dana Van Gorder, San Francisco AIDS Foundation's director of state and local affairs. The Senate and Assembly budget committees may next hear the issue on May 8.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
04.27.06; Matthew S. Bajko
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.