Senate Maintains Commitment to Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs

Jun 15, 2012, 12:38 ET from The AIDS Institute

Proposes Increases for AIDS Medications and Level Funding for Prevention 

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --"The AIDS Institute thanks Chairman Tom Harkin for his leadership in maintaining the United States Senate's strong commitment to domestic HIV programs by increasing funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and maintaining funding for HIV prevention and other parts of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "We are grateful that during these difficult fiscal times, Chairman Harkin and his colleagues recognize the importance of the federal government's role in preventing infectious diseases, such as HIV, and the need to provide care and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS to keep them healthy and reduce new infections," continued Schmid.


Under the fiscal year 2013 spending bill passed by the Appropriations Committee yesterday, funding for the Ryan White ADAP would increase by $30 million over FY12 levels for a total of $963 million. According to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), there are 2,170 people on ADAP waiting lists in 9 states and hundreds of people have been disenrolled from the program due to budget constraints and growing enrollment. The amount passed by the Committee includes a continuation of the $35 million in emergency funding announced by President Obama on World AIDS Day last December 1st to address the escalating ADAP wait list. While this amount does not meet the actual need of an increase of $190 million nor President Obama's proposed increase of $67 million, it will help reduce the wait lists and provide lifesaving medications to more people in need.

The Committee maintains funding for the other parts of the Ryan White Program, which fund primary care and support services for over 550,000 low-income people with HIV/AIDS, and have struggled to keep up with increased patient caseloads.

The AIDS Institute is particularly pleased the Committee rejected a cut proposed in the President's budget to Part D of the Ryan White Program, which funds programs for 90,000 children, youth, women, and families.

The Committee maintains current spending for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are 50,000 new HIV infections each year and the federal government allocates only 3% of its domestic HIV spending on prevention. The AIDS Institute is disappointed the Committee provided no increased investment in prevention needed to bring down the number of new infections.

The Committee did not restore the $10 million cut to HIV Adolescent and School Health. That cut, initiated by the Congress in FY12, amounted to a loss of 25% of its budget. The CDC reports that young people aged 13-29 accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections in 2009. President Obama requested an increase of $40 million for HIV prevention, including the restoration of the School Health program.

Medical research at the National Institutes of Health under the bill would increase by a very modest $100 million.

Funding for Hepatitis Prevention at the CDC would remain at approximately $30 million.

By supporting federal funding of syringe exchange programs, the Committee agreed with President Obama's budget that evidence-based science should be followed when it comes to HIV prevention. The Committee rejected discretionary funding of failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. At the insistence of the House of Representatives, a federal funding ban on syringe exchange programs and discretionary funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs was reinstituted for FY12.

Included in the bill is funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is critically important to providing access to care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS as well as preventing HIV.

The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 16 to 14, with all Republicans voting against it.

"As the International AIDS Conference returns to Washington, DC, this July, the eyes of the world will be on the U.S. to see if we are adequately addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic," commented Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "President Obama has shown leadership by developing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy and bolstering it with the dollars to implement it. With this bill, the Senate has shown its commitment, as well. Now we await what the House of Representatives will do, which may have differing views on how to address federal spending. Whatever path is taken, it is critical that programs of public health significance, including HIV/AIDS, are adequately funded," Ruppal concluded. 

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SOURCE The AIDS Institute