March 9, 2009
Many AIDS advocates found encouragement from President Barack Obama's recently proposed $3.6 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2010. It calls for an unspecified funding increase for domestic AIDS programs, including HIV prevention. The White House said full details of the budget will be released in April.
"The budget increases resources to detect, prevent, and treat HIV/AIDS domestically, especially in underserved populations," said the administration's FY2010 budget summary.
"This is refreshing news, since funding for domestic HIV prevention is flat-funded this year, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program will receive only a 3.4 percent increase -- far below what is actually needed," said Michael Ruppal, interim executive director of the AIDS Institute.
The institute and other AIDS groups also welcomed the appointment of Jeffrey Crowley as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Crowley is a senior research scholar at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute and a former National Association of People With AIDS officer. National gay and AIDS groups said his appointment could signal that the administration plans to develop a coordinated HIV prevention and treatment strategy.
Advocates were less upbeat about fiscal year 2009, which began Oct. 1 but for which Congress has not passed a budget. Congress has passed continuing resolutions to fund the government at FY2008 levels while it completes that appropriations measure.
"The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill is a mixed bag for domestic HIV/AIDS," said Carl Schmid, the AIDS Institute's director of federal affairs. "While we are pleased to see some increased funding for care and treatment in the Ryan White HIV program, we are very disappointed that Congress is flat-funding domestic HIV prevention at [CDC]," he said. "This is on top of a $3.5 million cut to prevention programs last year and after a report by the CDC that new HIV infections stand at 56,300 per year, or 40 percent higher than previous estimates."