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Washington, DC -- A House subcommittee's markup of an appropriations bill that funds federal HIV/AIDS initiatives represents a positive first step in the budget process, but doesn't go far enough to address the needs of Americans with HIV and AIDS, according to AIDS Action Deputy Director of Government Affairs Julio Abreu.
"I agree with Chairman Porter and Congressman Obey that these numbers are too low," said Abreu. "They've largely matched the President's budget request. However, we know that this still isn't enough to put a real dent in the rate of new infections. With nearly 1 million people living with HIV in America, we know that we'll need a serious investment in health care and social services that these numbers do not reflect."
AIDS Action last year called for an increase of $100 million in the HIV prevention budget of the Centers for Disease Control, but was disappointed when the Administration forwarded a request to Congress representing only a $40 million increase. The newest CDC data indicates that of the 40,000 new HIV infections in this country each year, fully half occur in people under the age of 25.
"We're fiddling while Rome burns," said Abreu. "The face of AIDS has changed, and it's a younger one. Young people of color are becoming HIV positive at an astounding rate. They aren't getting the messages they need to protect themselves. Everybody seems to understand we need to get real about prevention, but our leaders need to put our money where their mouths are."
"Today's markup is good, not great. We'll be looking for a more substantial package overall, with particular emphasis on care and prevention," said Abreu.