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Sign-On Letter Asks HHS Secretary to Use Prevention and Wellness Fund to Support HIV Prevention

May 12, 2010

Below is a sign-on letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the use of the Prevention and Wellness Fund that is part of the health care reform bill. If your organization would like to sign onto the letter, please send an e-mail to to confirm.

The letter will be held until 12:00 p.m. noon (EST), on Monday, May 17th.

Text of Letter

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

Thank you so much for your commitment to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The organizations who have signed this letter (see below) look forward to working with you to implement the Health and Human Services (HHS) components of this plan. We also appreciate all your work on health care reform. This letter is to begin a dialogue on the Prevention and Wellness Fund within the health care reform bill and the need for additional support to prevent HIV/AIDS. As you know, HIV is a leading cause of preventable death for people of color, particularly for women, transgender women, gay men and other men who have sex with men. We would like you to consider the following:

  1. Increase the number of community based organizations (CBOs) that receive funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for program announcement (FOA) PS10-1003;
  2. Make-up budget shortfalls in state HIV/AIDS prevention programs; and
  3. Ensure Community Transformation Grants include HIV/AIDS prevention.

As we await the final NHAS, we know that full implementation will take money. Yet these are very difficult times and the prospect of significant new resources to meet the growing demands for HIV/AIDS prevention is limited. The Prevention and Wellness Fund within the health care reform bill can make the difference between a successful NHAS versus a strategy that gets left on a bookshelf due to lack of money.

Directly Funded CBO Program

In fall 2009, the CDC announced funds for HIV prevention projects for minority- and other CBOs serving populations at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV infection. Over 500 applications were submitted. A review is underway to determine which CBOs to fund. The current funding level will allow for approximately 150 applications to be supported. Selected organizations are slated to start July 1, 2010. We are asking HHS via the Prevention and Wellness Fund to support an additional 100 applications at $30,000,000 per year for five (5) years for program announcement (FOA) PS10-1003.

We make this request, because:

  • These projects are shovel ready and slated to start July 1, 2010.
  • The applications have undergone a federal review, so there will be no delay in getting funds to these qualified CBOs.
  • The organizations funded are expected to support the goals and objectives within the NHAS.
  • Without new money, it will be very challenging to implement a comprehensive NHAS.

Budget Shortfalls in State HIV/AIDS Programs

According to a survey report from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), more then $170 million was cut from state HIV/AIDS budgets in 2009. Twenty-five jurisdictions (55% of the survey respondents) reported cuts to their HIV prevention programs. For FY2010, there is already an additional $18.5 million in cuts to the HIV and viral hepatitis budgets. When you factor out new monies for testing initiatives, for which only certain states were eligible to apply, federal funding for core state HIV/AIDS cooperative agreements also has decreased by $23 million.

Once again, if we are to have a successful NHAS, we need money. We are asking for $116.5 million to address state budget cuts; 55% of the $170 million that was cut in FY2009 plus the $23 million in federal cuts.

We make this request, because:

  • The CDC has existing state cooperative agreements that can quickly funnel money to states and territories.
  • The money requested is to back fill state HIV/AIDS prevention budget/programs where cuts are having a devastating impact on our country's HIV/AIDS prevention agenda and ability to reduce HIV incidence.
  • Without new money, it will be very challenging to implement the NHAS.

Community Transformation Grants

In the near future HHS, via the CDC, will award Community Transformation Grants to state and local governmental agencies and CBOs. These grants are for the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of proven evidence-based community preventive health activities in order to reduce chronic disease rates and address health disparities.

We are asking that HIV/AIDS prevention providers be eligible to apply for the Community Transformation Grants. Unfortunately HIV has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. We need stronger evidence-based prevention programs, and we would suggest that HIV disease to both an infection and a chronic disease. Community Transformation Grants should be used to address fundamental/structural issues of risk and lack of health care utilization in the most affected communities -- on the topic of HIV and other health issues affecting these "high impact" communities.

We are recommending the first two projects; because they are turn-key and can start this fiscal year. The third recommendation depends on your timeline; we just want HIV/AIDS prevention to be included. The first two projects not only significantly increase our country's ability to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but they will also save or add much needed jobs and economic stimulus. Without this additional funding, some CBOs will be forced to close their doors. Not only is this bad for HIV prevention; it is also bad for the country's economic burden and recovery efforts.

Thank you so much for considering this proposal. We are eager to discuss this challenge or any other HIV/AIDS issue. Please contact Paul Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council, at or (202) 483-6622 ext. 321 to schedule a meeting.


(Organizations that sign on will be listed in alphabetical order.)

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This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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