Federal Government Spending Caps on HIV/AIDS Funding Must be Lifted
Critical budgetary issues on the horizon for fiscal year 2000 will set the tone and the stage for HIV/AIDS work in the next millennium.
Congress is now working to determine the funding levels of all appropriations bills for FY 2000 and reviewing President Clinton's proposed FY 2000 appropriations levels. His recommendations for spending on federal AIDS programs fall short of the need for prevention, care and services, research and housing for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical services.
Given the alarming rates of HIV infection, especially among young people and in communities of color, these services are essential to our continuing fight against the worst public health crisis of our time. Today, more people are living with HIV than ever before.
In the wake of the Balanced Budget Agreement of 1997, decisions about funding are made in the context of increasingly tight resource pools. This means that there will be decreased availability of discretionary spending, the area of the federal budget where most programs relating to HIV/AIDS are funded. As part of the balanced budget amendment, caps were placed on discretionary spending to reduce and eventually eliminate the budget deficit. These caps could result in the reduction of funding for public health programs, including HIV/AIDS funding (see chart on this page).
Despite mounting evidence of increased HIV infection rates among young people and in communities of color, President Clinton's FY 2000 budget proposes flat federal prevention funding for the fourth year in a row. The proposed $666 million in funding for prevention is $9 million more than last year, but below the rate of inflation. Funding for care services and treatment, under the Ryan White CARE Act, are far below projected needs.
The time to act is now. Your representatives listen to you. Use this power to contact your senators and/or representative as soon as possible and urge them to support the full funding of the HIV/AIDS portfolio which will include lifting the caps on discretionary spending for fiscal year 2000. (See the sample letter on below.)
We need you to help ensure that people with HIV/AIDS gain access to compassionate care and the best combinations of drugs. Innovative research and prevention programs are needed and you can help out by writing letters.
The Honorable (name here) The Honorable (name here) U.S. House of Representatives U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510 Dear Representative: (last name) Dear Senator (last name):
I am writing to urge you to meet the needs of today's HIV/AIDS epidemic by fully funding federal AIDS programs for FY 2000. By flat-funding prevention, the President's proposal for federal AIDS programs does not adequately respond to the growing HIV epidemic among young people and communities of color. Now is not the time to be complacent when a growing number of people are living with AIDS.
HIV/AIDS is increasingly affecting younger Americans and people of color. Funding for prevention and research is needed to reinvigorate effective prevention programs and innovate new programs if we are to turn this tragic tide.
People living with HIV/AIDS need unfettered access to the new life-prolonging treatments, but these medications are not a panacea. The treatments can cause serious side effects, involve complex treatment regimes, and are extremely expensive. The long-term effectiveness of these drugs is uncertain. Research and clinical trials are needed to develop better treatments.
Federal spending on AIDS programs is cost-effective and benefits everyone. Targeting dollars for prevention and research saves lives, alleviates suffering, and saves costs associated with treatment and care services. Stable housing for men, women and children with HIV/AIDS can help prevent early onset of illnesses. Research has already led us towards treatments that prolong life for people with HIV and AIDS. Continued research will one day provide a vaccine and a genuine cure to bring about an end to AIDS in the next century.
I urge you to support full funding for federal AIDS programs. Such support requires lifting the budgetary caps to adequately fund vital HIV/AIDS programs for FY 2000. Thank you for considering this plea and supporting Californians affected by HIV and AIDS.
Sincerely, (Your name, mailing address, and ZIP code)
This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.