The Budget and Beyond -- A Call to Action for the HIV/AIDS Community and Government Officials
What We Need Beyond Increased Funding to End HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
February 3, 2010
An editorial by Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at the National Minority AIDS Council
Washington, D.C. -- While we applaud the President's request to increase HIV/AIDS funding by $40 million (1.7%) in the FY2011 budget, I am concerned that this number falls short after the 8 years of flat-funding under the previous Administration. Sometimes we count our blessings no matter how small they are, but we should never turn a blind eye to fully funding what is needed to care and treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. The budget, the framework of how we spend resources, impacts the major federal agencies that oversee HIV/AIDS programming in the U.S. As HIV/AIDS advocates, we must hold government officials accountable during the appropriations process: it is imperative that AIDS dollars are disbursed in a manner that reflects the impact of the epidemic.
This means ensuring that communities hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic receive the funding they need. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that HIV incidence was 40% higher than previously estimated, with over 55,500 new HIV cases occurring in the U.S. annually. Of these cases, 70% were in communities of color. African Americans alone accounted for just under half of all new HIV infections, followed by Latinos, who showed a significant increase in HIV incidence at 18%. Incidence rates among Asian and Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaska Native communities showed dramatic increases as well.
The AIDS community -- and federal agencies -- must look beyond HIV funding when it comes to mitigating HIV/AIDS in the U.S. We must address the socio-economic determinants that have undermined the overall health and welfare of communities heavily impacted by AIDS: lack of affordable housing; limited access to education and health care; and high rates of malnutrition, substance use, incarceration and poverty. These determinants have helped lay the foundation for HIV/AIDS in minority communities and must be addressed through the allocation of appropriate resources -- and the will of the AIDS community.
I believe that re-investment in America's health infrastructure through health reform and increased HIV/AIDS funding will lead us into an era where sound public policy, evidence-based health and HIV/AIDS programming; and community meet and produce great outcomes.
President's Budget on HIV/AIDS: Key Programs Protected, but More Funding Needed to Meet Growing Demand for Care
This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.