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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 07
Obama's 2012 budget maintains commitment to HIV/AIDS programs
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Obama's 2012 budget maintains commitment to HIV/AIDS programs

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 maintains his commitment to domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs and proposes increases for domestic AIDS medications and HIV prevention, as well as research at the National Institutes of Health.

The president's proposed budget was greeted by The AIDS Institute with a mixture of caution and relief.

'The president has put forth a federal budget that seeks to restore fiscal responsibility while investing in some key areas. While we acknowledge the increases he has proposed are far from adequate, we appreciate his continued commitment and investment to HIV/AIDS programs,' commented Michael Ruppal, executive director of The AIDS Institute.

The AIDS Institute is a national non-profit organization that promotes AIDS policy research, education, and advocacy.

Under the budget proposed by the president, funding for the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) would increase by $105 million over 2010 levels.

ADAP programs provide FDA-approved prescription meds to people with HIV/AIDS who lack other resources to pay for treatment.

There are now some 6,000 people on ADAP waiting lists in 10 states and thousands more are being dropped from the program for lack of funding.

Congress is still working on the 2011 budget. With the two houses of Congress controlled by different parties, Senate and House budget proposals diverge widely.

Senate Democrats have proposed increasing 2011 ADAP funding by $65 million, but House Republicans are proposing to cut ADAP by $25 million for 2011.

'While we know what the president proposed for [fiscal year 2012] is far from what is adequate, in the near term Congress must support at least an increase of $65 million for ADAP in [fiscal year 2011]. If we have long wait lists now, just imagine what the situation will be like next year with no increases in funding,' said The AIDS Institute Deputy Director Carl Schmid.

If the Congress approves the $65 million 2011 increase, the president's proposed increase for 2012 would be $45 million.

The president also proposed an increase of $5 million to the early intervention and primary care services for people with HIV/AIDS under Part C of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

With this increase, Part C would receive the same amount of funding that the president proposed in last year's budget.

The Ryan White Act Part C pays for primary care services for people with HIV/AIDS that are not covered by individual insurance or other programs. Services may include dental and vision care, nutrition counseling, prescription meds, and help with insurance premiums or co-pays.

To help achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce the number of new HIV infections, President Obama is proposing to increase funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $58 million over 2010 levels.

Thirty million dollars of that increase would come from the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Medical research at the National Institutes of Health would receive an increase of $740 million above 2010, or about the same level proposed by the president in 2011.

Of this amount, $74 million would be allocated to AIDS prevention research, including vaccines and microbicides, and to the discovery of new drug therapies that prolong and improve people's lives.

There are currently over 56,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. every year.

Under the president's proposed budget, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program at HUD would be funded at 2010 levels - $325 million.

That is $15 million less than what the president proposed last year.

HOPWA provides housing for low-income people with HIV/AIDS.

Funding for Hepatitis Prevention at the CDC is slated to receive an increase of $5.2 million for a total of $25 million.

While the president proposes a budget, all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, now controlled by Republicans.

The president and House Republican leaders seem to be on a collision course, as Republicans pushed for $61 billion in budget cuts, almost all of them from domestic spending programs.

The effect of these budget battles on HIV/AIDS funding is not yet certain.

'Now it is up to the Congress to do its part and demonstrate its commitment to the over 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.,' The AIDS Institute's Ruppal said.

'The [fiscal year 2011] Continuing Resolution authored by House Republicans proposes massive cuts to both domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs. The AIDS Institute urges the Congress to reject those reckless cuts and consider the long term human and societal impacts of their decisions.'

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