Zero Percent Increase for HIV Prevention and Treatment Services
Budget Fails to Address Nation's War on AIDS
February 4, 2002
Washington, DC -- The Bush Administration's Fiscal Year 2003 budget, released today, recommends level funding for federal HIV/AIDS prevention services, care and treatment programs. This news comes on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent announcement that the number of new AIDS cases in the United States increased by 8 percent in 2001. "Now is not the time to falter in our commitment to HIV prevention funding," says Dr. Marsha Martin, Executive Director of AIDS Action. "Flat funding HIV prevention means that there will be fewer opportunities to teach people how to protect themselves from HIV. Without increases in HIV prevention funding, we only ensure that we will have to spend more money to take care of people living with HIV and AIDS. And with the rate of medical inflation at 11 percent, flat-funding health care programs translates into real reductions in services plain and simple."
HIV prevention programs save money. The estimated lifetime cost of caring for a person living with HIV is $125,000 to $157,000. An HIV prevention program could cost up to one million dollars and would save money -- and lives -- if it prevented eight people from contracting HIV.
Dr. Martin explains, "HIV prevention works. We know that 150,000 people were infected with HIV each year in the beginnings of the U.S. AIDS epidemic. As we have learned what works in HIV prevention, we have decreased the rate of infection to approximately 40,000 new HIV infections each year." The CDC's strategic plan calls for decreasing new HIV infections by 50% (to 20,000 new cases a year) by 2005. "The federal government can not fulfill its own commitments without significant increases in HIV prevention funding," says Dr. Martin.
As part of the Bush Administration's budget, Ryan White CARE Act programs were level-funded for a second year in a row. The Care Act programs provide comprehensive care, treatment and access to expensive AIDS drugs for those living with HIV and AIDS who lack adequate health insurance. The Ryan White CARE ACT programs are essential in expanding access to health care. "The fact is this budget cuts the single agency (Health Resources and Services Administration) responsible for serving America's underserved by 12 percent."
"Homeland security also means investing in prevention and care services for people at risk and living with HIV," said Dr. Martin. "The fact President Bush failed to talk about AIDS or other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease in his State of the Union address last week should send a clear message that our Nation's public health has fallen off of this Administration's radar screen."
AIDS services organizations around the country were hopeful the Administration's budget would recognize that many community-based organizations have experienced significant decreases in charitable giving after September 11th. And as a result of the economic downturn, many states have proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS programs and announced shortfalls in state Medicaid budgets.
"Federal support for all HIV/AIDS programs has never been more critical given all of the circumstances we are dealing with here in New York City and around the country," said Ronald Johnson, AIDS Action Council Board member and Deputy Executive Director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis. "GMHC followed the public and private partnership model that this Administration supports, but now when the going is tough for us this Administration has fallen far short in its commitment to HIV and AIDS."
As the FY 2003 appropriations process moves to Capitol Hill, AIDS Action and its diverse membership of AIDS service organizations, public health departments, researchers, educators and advocates will work closely with members of Congress to ensure the HIV/AIDS community has the resources to effectively reduce HIV infection, provide care and treatment to those living with HIV/AIDS and find a vaccine that will allow the United States and the world to see an end to AIDS.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.