WASHINGTON - Yesterday, in the same week as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, President Bush put forth a budget request for fiscal year 2008 that largely underfunds the Ryan White CARE Act and other critical domestic HIV/AIDS priorities.
The president's budget request proposes largely flat-funding the Ryan White CARE Act over the funding levels included in the continuing resolution for fiscal year 2007 that was put forth by the new fair-minded leadership and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The president's proposal did contain a small, but insufficient, increase of $25 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program while keeping most of the CARE Act at level funding.
"Barely two months after the president signed a bill to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, his new budget request short-changes this vital program," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The president has paid much rhetoric to the problem of HIV/AIDS among minority communities in the United States. It's time for the president to put his money where his mouth is and request funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs that keeps pace with the real need."
The president's request also included an increase of $28 million for unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and fail to give young people the information and resources to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"It is unconscionable that in the same week that the nation commemorates the HIV/AIDS crisis in the African-American community, President Bush puts forth a budget that fails to meet the challenges posed by today's epidemic," Solmonese continued. "With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that 46 percent of African-American men who have sex with men in five major U.S. cities are already HIV-positive, it is simply unacceptable that the president can find more money for anti-gay abstinence-until-marriage programs and neglect so many other domestic HIV/AIDS priorities."
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed on Feb. 7. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, approximately 500,000 are African-American. Furthermore, only 14 percent of African-Americans living with HIV/AIDS have access to private health insurance while 59 percent rely on Medicaid and 22 percent are uninsured.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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