WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Congress must reject
President Bush's Fiscal Year 2009 budget in order to address the critical
health needs of the over 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the
United States," commented Dr. Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS
Institute. "Most of the people who rely on these government programs for
their healthcare and medicines are very poor and from minority communities.
As the richest nation in the world, we can't turn our backs on them. The
budget the President has recommended ignores our Nation's healthcare
priorities and must be rejected."
"We must also turn to the Congress to increase HIV prevention funding
at the CDC. At the same time the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control
(CDC) is about to release higher HIV incidence numbers for the U.S., and is
embarking on increasing HIV testing and case finding programs, the
President is proposing to cut HIV prevention programs," Copello continued.
"It is appalling that the President is recommending a measly $1 million
or .004% increase for the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides healthcare
and medications for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS," added Copello.
"This does not even keep up with inflation, let alone take in account that
more people need services due to new infections, new testing initiatives,
and people are living longer. We will now have to turn to the Congress to
adequately fund HIV/AIDS care and treatment."
Many parts of the Ryan White program have faced cuts in recent years
despite the growing demand. For the current year, HIV/AIDS funding for
state health departments was cut by $19 million at the same time state
budgets are being stretched due to the economic downturn. The President is
proposing an increase of only $6 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance
Program (ADAP) which provides lifesaving medications. This does not come
close to the anticipated needed increase of $133 million. Despite this
minor increase, he is proposing cuts to other parts of the Ryan White
While the President is proposing to flat fund CDC HIV/AIDS programs
overall, he is cutting HIV prevention programs by $40 million and putting
those funds into HIV testing. "While we need additional money for testing
it should not come at the expense of HIV prevention," commented Carl
Schmid, Director of Federal Affairs for The AIDS Institute. "Additionally,
the President is continuing to propose increases for failed and
scientifically invalid abstinence-only until marriage programs, which is
slated to receive a $28 million increase. "We call on the Congress to
correct these injustices," added Schmid.
The President's budget also flat funds HUD's Housing Opportunities for
Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program and NIH research. HOWPA assists
individuals and families who are homeless or in threat of homelessness and
living with HIV/AIDS. NIH funding increases are desperately needed so we
can find new therapeutics and prevention strategies, including a vaccine
"The AIDS Institute is also deeply concerned with the startling $200
billion proposal to reduce Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years,"
added Schmid. "As the two largest healthcare programs for people with
HIV/AIDS, we will work very hard in the Congress to defeat any reduction
that harms beneficiaries."
The President renewed his pledge to fight the global pandemics of
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria by calling on Congress to authorize
$4.79 billion for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
This represents a 3% increase over the funding level enacted in FY 2008.
This landmark initiative, begun in earnest in 2004, has witnessed
phenomenal successes such as providing life-saving retroviral treatment for
approximately 1.45 million men, women, and children in the 15 focus
countries. It has also provided care for more than 6.6 million people,
including care for more than 2.7 million orphans and vulnerable children.
To keep pace with the scale up of programs and services, as well as
reassure the leadership of the countries where this program has made a
significant impact on the lives of the people, Congress must continue to
fund this program at levels that will sustain the efforts and achieve the
Copello concluded: "While the President's FY 2009 budget carries good
news for addressing the global pandemic, it is terribly inadequate to
address the epidemic in our own backyard. Following a trend now for several
years, this budget will only further destabilize the prevention of HIV and
the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS in our own country.
The AIDS Institute supports and applauds efforts to curb HIV/AIDS
worldwide. However, we must see a new commitment and real leadership in
stopping the epidemic in the United States as well.
For more information and to become involved in AIDS advocacy work,
please contact The AIDS Institute at: (202) 835-8373, or by email at:
Info@theaidsinstitute.org or www.TheAIDSInstitute.org
The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit agency that promotes action
for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.
SOURCE The AIDS Institute