SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The sequester, with its devastating cuts to virtually every line item in the federal budget, is now forcing our nation to take a troubling step backward in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The cuts mean fewer chances for people to learn their HIV status, get the medical care they need to stay healthy, and avoid passing the virus on to others. It is now incumbent upon Congress to restore these funds as quickly as possible to minimize the harmful impacts to our country's health.
"The cuts to HIV health, prevention, housing, and research programs will have a damaging and destabilizing impact on the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS," said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "This totally avoidable wound to the nation's economy moves us backward at a time when we have the tools to dramatically change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Unfortunately, our federal leaders have chosen a path that will result in worse health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of people across the country."
San Francisco AIDS Foundation, together with the HIV/AIDS advocacy community, other health groups, and the nation's governors and mayors, is calling on Congress to negotiate a resolution so that the full impact of these massive cuts is never felt and essential services continue to help those most in need.
The sequester requires an automatic 5% across-the-board funding cut. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) faces a cut that will result in 7,400 people living with HIV losing access to life-saving medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 424,000 fewer HIV tests will be provided nationwide, and 49,300 fewer tests in California. The state of California will see a $12.4 million cut to its substance-use treatment grant, resulting in 9,400 fewer treatment slots. The federal government is now distributing only partial Ryan White Program funding to the most heavily impacted jurisdictions in the United States; the remaining funds await the final federal budget negotiations.
"These cuts have real consequences and they are taking an immediate toll on some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "The political gamesmanship we've witnessed in Washington is poor policy and puts the health of individuals and entire communities at risk. We are now working to ensure that the cuts to the federal budget do the least harm to HIV prevention efforts and patient care."
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.
Contact: Ryan McKeel
SOURCE San Francisco AIDS Foundation