February 02, 2004
Category: HIV & AIDS
HRC Strongly concerned With Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Request for Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs
HRC Calls Upon Congress to Make Funding the Domestic HIV/AIDS Crisis a Priority
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign expressed extreme concern with the proposed funding levels for HIV/AIDS programs in the president's fiscal year 2005 request, released today. While details on spending continued to emerge, the requested budget would fund prevention programs at the National Center for HIV/STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at $696 million when the nation spent $700 million in 2003, and the budget provides flat funding for nearly every care and treatment program within the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act.
"We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has proposed spending $4 million less than our nation did two years ago on critical HIV/AIDS prevention programs. With approximately 40,000 new infections each year in our nation, we cannot go backward in our commitment to preventing new HIV/AIDS infections," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "We must strengthen the entire range of federal HIV/AIDS programs, and we call upon Congress to work with HRC and the community to ensure that these programs are funded appropriately."
The president's budget requests $696 million for prevention programs at the CDC for HIV/AIDS, which represents a slight increase of $1 million from fiscal year 2004 but $4 million less than fiscal year 2003. Funding for the Ryan White CARE Act was increased from $2.02 billion this year to $2.055 billion next year, with the $35 million increase being recommended for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which means funding for the other critical programs within the CARE Act will remain flat. While the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program also received no increase, research at the National Institutes of Health saw a $100 million increase. Lastly, the president proposed doubling the amount of money available in his budget for scientifically unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage education programs to $273 million.
"A CDC report released last summer showed that the rate of HIV diagnoses for gay and bisexual men is rising steeply. And the CDC also reports that members of the gay and bisexual community - particularly within communities of color - are at significant risk without adequate prevention programs in place," added Jacques. "This is no time to cut short our commitment to serious, science-based prevention programs while at the same time funding abstinence-only programs."
According to a CDC 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.