June 13, 2005
-- As federal officials announce today new estimates indicating that as many as 1.18 million Americans may be living with HIV -- an increase from the previous estimate of 850,000 to 950,000 -- AIDS advocates blamed the increase on chronic under-funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and care efforts.
"Frankly, we are not shocked that the potent mix of a decade of insufficient funding for science-based HIV prevention and an overdose of ideologically driven policy has pushed us over the million mark," said Executive Director Julie Davids of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP).
AIDS advocates noted that President Bushs FY06 budget request calls for a $4 million reduction in domestic HIV prevention activities and no new funding for HIV care and treatment services, with the exception of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program slated for a nominal $10 million increase. Care and prevention funding has declined steadily in the past five years.
Noteworthy for its absence is any discussion of the 2001-2005 HIV Prevention Strategic Plan, which called for a 50 percent reduction in annual HIV infections by 2005. According to the CDC, annual HIV infections remain at 2001 levels of approximately 40,000 new cases a year.
"The new data give a clearer picture of the urgency to expand science-based HIV prevention approaches," said Jim Pickett of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "Here at this conference, it is readily apparent that while we have the tools to end AIDS, we are absolutely failing as a country to bring them to scale."
"This is not a matter of Internet cruising or stereotypes of down-low," said Mark McLaurin of the New York AIDS Coalition, "It is an outright misplacement of priorities that throws money to abstinence-only-until-marriage laser light shows in our schools rather than truly confronting a disease that is the largest killer of young African American men and women in our nation."