Press Room

January 27, 2004

Category: HIV & AIDS

HRC Decries FY 2004 Funding Decrease for HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs

HRC Calls upon President Bush to Restore Funding for Adequate Prevention Resources in FY 2005 Budget

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign expressed strong disappointment in the Fiscal Year 2004 funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs as passed Jan. 22, 2004. We call upon President Bush to restore funding for adequate prevention resources as he prepares to release his FY 2005 budget next week, says HRC.

"To cut funding for HIV/AIDS prevention when we know the only cure is prevention shows a serious misunderstanding of how to protect Americans from this disease," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "With roughly 40,000 new HIV infections occurring annually in the United States, funding cuts to HIV prevention programs will have a serious effect on the nation and on our community in particular."

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released in July 2003, HIV infections among gay and bisexual men rose 7.1 percent from 2001 to 2002. HIV diagnoses for gay and bisexual men have increased by 17.7 percent since the lowest point in 1999. In its strategic plan, the CDC recognizes that homophobia adversely impacts prevention efforts. Consequently, it identifies the need to develop and implement HIV-prevention programs for gay and bisexual men, particularly within communities of color. Congress and the administration should follow the CDC's recommendations, says HRC.

"Clearly our community is one of the communities that HIV/AIDS is disproportionately impacting. Instead of increasing funding for prevention programs, President Bush said in his State of the Union that he will focus taxpayers' dollars on unprecedented funding for abstinence-only programs - programs proven time and again to be ineffective when they stand alone," added Jacques. "The only way abstinence-only programs can work is if they are instituted as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy. We urge the President and Congress to appropriately fund all federal HIV/AIDS programs, including prevention at the CDC, research at the National Institutes of Health and care through the Ryan White CARE Act."

The $820 billion spending package contained a $4.1 million decrease in the CDC's funding for HIV prevention and surveillance, as well as a $500,000 decrease in funding for the CDC's STD prevention projects. The 2004 District of Columbia appropriations bill - also part of the Omnibus legislation - also included language prohibiting local and federal funds from being used for needle exchange programs.

"From cutting funds for HIV/AIDS prevention to prohibiting dollars for needle exchange programs, this package fails to heed the advice of the government's own scientists," said Jacques. "It's time for our tax-paying dollars to be spent on proven methods of prevention."