Policy & Politics
California HIV/AIDS Groups Decry State Budget Cuts
October 21, 2010
California HIV/AIDS service providers say a big cut in state AIDS funding will have dire consequences. In exercising his line-item veto power, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 8 cut nearly $1 billion from the $87.5 billion state budget, including almost $60 million in AIDS funding.
"The $7.6 million in cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program means many Californians living with HIV or AIDS will not receive lifesaving medication," said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). "The governor slashed funding for education and prevention while ironically leaving monies for surveillance and epidemiological studies."
On Sept. 24, CDC reported an HIV prevalence of 19 percent for men who have sex with men tested in 21 US cities in 2008. Of those infected, 44 percent were not aware of their HIV status. HIV prevalence in San Francisco MSM was 23 percent, with 19 percent of those infected unaware of their status.
With the state budget cuts, "The ability to stay ahead of the epidemic has been substantially reduced," said Phil Curtis, government affairs director at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
Programs heavily reliant upon state funding include education and prevention services, home-based care, early intervention, housing, and services provided outside of cities, Curtis said. "They have been wiped out," he said. "How many jurisdictions can kick in funds from elsewhere in their budgets is unknown," he said, but the recession makes the prospects slim.
Under last year's state budget cuts, APLA lost about 20 percent of its employees, Curtis said. "That translates to cutbacks and longer waits for service," he said. The agency's home care program took a hard hit, and public education programming in Los Angeles has virtually disappeared, Curtis added.
State cuts have led to "a decrease in HIV testing capacity and in the number of test kits," said Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, San Francisco AIDS Foundation's director of state and local affairs.
Edge Los Angeles
10.13.2010; Peter Cassels
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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