-- A House subcommittee today passed a fiscal year 1998 funding bill that calls for a $250 million funding increase for AIDS care, prevention and research programs - this includes a 79 percent increase for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Meanwhile, in the Senate, an appropriations subcommittee proposed an $8 million increase for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program. These actions came one day after the release of new AIDS mortality figures showing that access to health care services, promising AIDS drug therapies, and stable housing are keeping more people with HIV/AIDS alive longer.
"Fortunately, many of our elected officials - especially Rep. John Porter (R-Ill.) - understand the correlation between a sustained federal investment in AIDS research, prevention, housing, and care and the dramatic drop in AIDS deaths announced yesterday at our State of AIDS Forum," said Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action's executive director. "We are elated that that understanding has translated, at least at this point in the budget process, into funding increases that could benefit thousands of people with HIV/AIDS."
In its mark-up of the FY98 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations bill, the House Labor/HHS Subcommittee recommended funding increases for the following AIDS programs:
- The Ryan White CARE Act, the bedrock of AIDS care for people with HIV/AIDS, would receive an increase of $172 million over the FY97 funding level of $996.3 million.
- ADAPs would receive $132 million of this funding increase - an infusion that could allow overburdened, cash-strapped ADAPs to continue to provide HIV/AIDS medications to over 80,000 Americans living with HIV/AIDS.
The remaining $40 million funding increase is distributed as follows:
- $21.7 million for the delivery of medical care and support services to metropolitan areas hardest hit by the epidemic (Title I);
- $12 million to support states in providing comprehensive AIDS services in urban, suburban and rural communities (Title II);
- $3.4 million for comprehensive outpatient HIV/AIDS services to rural and underserved urban areas, particularly women, adolescents and people of color (Title IIIB);
- $1.7 million for HIV services and clinical research programs for children, youth, women and families (Title IV);
- $800,000 for the AETCs (Title V);
- and $400,000 for the AIDS dental reimbursement program (Title V).
- AIDS research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive a $73 million, or 4.8 percent, increase over the FY97 funding level of $1.5 million.
- HIV prevention programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would receive a $5 million, or 0.8 percent, increase over the FY97 funding level of $617 million.
AIDS Action applauded the subcommittee's funding recommendations, especially since the proposed increases come at a time when state-of-the-art treatments appear to keep alive and healthy many people with HIV/AIDS - especially those who are able to obtain state-of-the-art care. At yesterday's AIDS Action State of AIDS Forum, the CDC announced a 19 percent decline in the U.S. mortality rate - up from the 13 percent decline announced in January 1997. While the data represent good news, they also show that there is not equal access to the continuum of care people with HIV/AIDS require to stay alive and healthy.
"Funding increases such as those proposed today represent an important step forward in addressing the needs of all people with HIV/AIDS to obtain the care and medications they need," Zingale said. "The funding increases will also bolster our efforts to prevent further transmission of this dread virus, and will allow for continued research that may lead to the discovery of more effective treatments, a vaccine, and a cure."
Zingale added, however, that while the Labor/HHS subcommittee recommended some funding increases above what President Clinton requested earlier this year, some programs -- HIV prevention and titles II and IIIB of the Ryan White CARE Act -- would receive funding increases below the president's budget request.
"AIDS Action will work with members of Congress and with Clinton administration officials to ensure that AIDS prevention, care and research programs are funded at levels that will allow us to make continued progress in the fight against AIDS," Zingale said.
On a related matter, a Senate appropriations subcommittee today voted to follow a House appropriations subcommittee's lead by recommending an $8 million FY98 funding increase for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program. The recommended increase, which matches President Clinton's budget request for HOPWA, would increase HOPWA's funding level to $204 million in FY98.
AIDS Action is the nation's leading AIDS advocacy organization, representing all Americans affected by HIV/AIDS and over 1,400 community-based organizations that serve them.
For information, contact:
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3042