February 07, 2005
Category: HIV & AIDS
Bush Budget Cuts Hurt Those Living with HIV/AIDS, Puts Others at Risk
'This budget does not reflect the concern President Bush showed during his State of the Union for HIV and AIDS care and prevention,' said HRC Vice President of Policy David Smith.
WASHINGTON - As President Bush introduced his 2006 budget today, the Human Rights Campaign expressed grave concern about the requested funding of crucial HIV/AIDS programs. With the exception of modest increases for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and the National Institutes for Health, most other programs that affect people living with HIV/AIDS were flat-funded or saw budget cuts.
"This budget does not reflect the concern President Bush showed during his State of the Union for HIV and AIDS care and prevention," said HRC Vice President of Policy David M. Smith. "Unfortunately, the president's actions do not match his words."
The Ryan White CARE Act, which addresses the unmet health needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS, was highlighted in the president's State of the Union Address last week. Yet the budget request for the program included only a modest $10 million increase, all of which is earmarked for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. All other programs covered by the Ryan White CARE Act were flat-funded.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control saw a $4 million cut to its budget for HIV/AIDS prevention and surveillance. At the same time, unproven non-science-based abstinence-only programs, which do not include education about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, received $38 million in additional funding. A recent study at Texas A&M University showed that teenagers taking abstinence-only sex education programs endorsed by the president became increasingly sexually active, which is the exact opposite effect that the program is designed to have.
"Programs which focus on abstinence as the sole means of preventing HIV/AIDS put our young people at tremendous risk," said Smith. "The president has repeatedly stated his commitment to combating the spread of HIV. We have to question that commitment when his ideology consistently outweighs sound scientific facts.
"The young people of this country need leadership that recognizes the importance of comprehensive prevention education, and we hope to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle in Congress to make sure they get it," added Smith.
Despite the president's recognition that HIV/AIDS is a growing problem in communities of color, the Minority AIDS initiative was flat-funded. Also, $14 million was cut from the Housing for Persons Living With AIDS program, which helps people living with HIV/AIDS afford housing. Having stable living conditions increases the chances of strict adherence to drug regimens, which is necessary for fighting HIV/AIDS and also prevents the development of medication-resistant strains of the virus.
Unfortunately, President Bush's budget also includes Medicaid cuts of at least $45 billion over the next 10 years. These cuts would greatly affect a program that is responsible for providing health care to 55 percent of all adults living with AIDS and 90 percent of all children.