Pennsylvania: Corbett Budget Maintains AIDS Funding, Big Cuts Elsewhere

Gov. Tom Corbett's recent proposed $27.1 billion state budget includes mostly level funding for HIV/AIDS, with $7.1 million that would be maintained for programs under the state Department of Health (DOH). Funding for the disease, which was cut 25 percent two years ago, covers a comprehensive statewide HIV prevention program that includes community planning, testing and referral services, education, and risk-reduction efforts.

"We are grateful that after previous cuts, our funding in this area was not cut this year," said Jane Shull, executive director of the HIV/AIDS service organization Philadelphia FIGHT.

"We are confident that the proposed state budget, which maintains funding from last year, will not lead to any reduction in services provided through our HIV/AIDS programs," said Christine Cronkright, DOH's director of communications. The funds will be distributed in accordance with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and CDC guidance on high-impact interventions, she said.

State funding for STD screening and treatment would drop 5 percent under Corbett's proposal, from $1.82 million to $1.73 million. State universities would take a 20 percent to 30 percent cut, on top of drastic cuts they saw in the last budget. Kevin Burns, executive director of Philadelphia-based Action AIDS, said HIV/AIDS funding could still take a hit as legislators negotiate a lesser cut to education.

"It sets up this scenario where you have all of these systems in the state that are starved for money and, while they should all be fully funded, all of these worthwhile programs end up fighting over a small piece of the pie," Burns said.