Bush Budget Underfunds Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs

by HRC Staff

Human Rights Campaign urges Congress to increase funding for life-saving treatment, care, and prevention

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, issued the following statement today on the Bush Administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 that largely level funds critical domestic HIV/AIDS programs.

"The president's proposed budget falls far short of providing those on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the resources they need to confront what remains a national crisis." said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We call on Congress to reject the president's proposal to largely level fund these critical life-saving programs, and instead to provide adequate funding that meets the challenges of today's epidemic."

The president's budget requests a total of $2.143 billion for the Ryan White CARE Act, a $1 million (or 0.004%) increase over FY 2008. While the budget adds $14 million for grants to states and territories (of which $6 million is for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program), it offsets that increase with a $8 million cut to programs serving metropolitan areas hit hardest by the epidemic, and a $5 million (or 16%) cut to the AIDS Education Training Centers. The president's proposed budget also increases funding for abstinence-only until marriage programs by $27.7 million while providing level funding to the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and HIV/AIDS prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last month, the New York Times reported that, following a period of decline of HIV/AIDS cases in men who have sex with men, New York City health officials estimate that diagnoses of HIV rose by 32% among gay men under 30 between 2001 and 2006, with the most staggering increases among gay men ages 13 to 19 and black and Hispanic gay men.

"We are deeply disappointed that, in light of recent reports of startling increases in HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S., particularly among young gay and bisexual men and in communities of color, the president is seeking even more money for anti-gay abstinence-only-until-marriage programs while neglecting so many domestic HIV/AIDS priorities," continued Solmonese.

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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