February 14, 2011
Los Angeles, Calif. -- Today, President Obama released his budget for FY2012. We are conscious of growing calls for drastic deficit reduction measures. Last week, the House of Appropriations Committee introduced a continuing resolution that while avoiding explicit direct cuts to AIDS programs, includes proposals for deep reductions in funding for CDC, community health centers, biomedical research, and substance abuse treatment services.
We congratulate President Obama for attempting to balance the very real economic challenges our country is facing today while recognizing that continued investments in critical AIDS programs are essential to America's ability to "win the future." In a challenging budget year, the President's executive budget for Fiscal Year 2012 holds AIDS programs harmless from cuts and provides for modest increases in a number of important AIDS initiatives.
Our country cannot win the future without a healthy and productive population. Federal investments in life-saving AIDS programs keep workers in their jobs, improve the health and well being of communities, and contribute to America's long-term economic and human potential. With a number of breakthrough bio medical interventions emerging in 2010 as a result of federal support -- a vaginal microbicide and pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis -- the preventive and therapeutic tools at our disposal could provide the means to achieve long-term success in the AIDS response.
The President's proposed budget calls for increases to eliminate current waiting lists for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) nationwide. The budget also includes a welcome increase in HIV prevention funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in HIV and other biomedical research by the National Institutes of Health. The executive budget has also been accompanied by promising new policy developments, including funding for integrated HIV prevention efforts to hard-hit cities and changes to funding formulae to focus resources on areas where new cases of HIV infection are on the rise.
However, the President's proposed budget provides some cause for concern. While the proposed increase in ADAP funding will eliminate current waiting lists, the demand for treatment will continue to grow as more people are diagnosed with HIV, underscoring the need for long-term solutions to this problem. Unfortunately the budget does not include any increases in the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) or Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And the proposed increases in HIV prevention funding, while welcome, are unlikely on their own to ensure achievement of the goal in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy of reducing the rate of new infections by 25% by 2015.
Every American can agree that we need our government to live within its means. However, we urge Congress and the administration to work together to make wise decisions to build, rather than undermine, our country's long-term future. Our national leaders need to lead -- by prioritizing life-saving investments that improve productivity, strengthen communities, and equip our country to meet the competitive challenges of the 21st Century.
Yours in the Struggle,