New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis is strongly criticizing the Bush Administration's new budget for both domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs. 'I regret to report that President Bush's concern for people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS has not borne fruit in his budget proposal. This Administration's abject failure to respond to the critical prevention and treatment needs in the United States and around the world is appalling,' said Ana Oliveira, executive director of GMHC.
Full funding of the Centers for Disease Control for HIV prevention activities is necessary to achieve the agency's goal of cutting new infections in half by 2005, GHMC said. Scientists estimate that providing appropriate HIV prevention interventions to all those at risk of sexual transmission of HIV and providing services to all those at risk from injection-drug related HIV infection in the United States would cost an estimated $1.423 billion annually. The Bush Administration's proposal—which amounts to a $4 million cut in domestic prevention programs—spells disaster for those on the frontlines of the battle against HIV, claims GMHC.
Equally alarming is the Administration's apparent decision to flat-fund the Minority AIDS Initiative, which works to combat the devastation in communities of color across the nation. HIV/AIDS has now become the leading cause of death for African-Americans between the ages of 25-44.
Although President Bush's budget for HIV care and treatment programs calls for a $100 million increase in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), it assumes no increase in FY 2003 and delays the proposed increase until October. In the United States, 13 ADAPs have already either limited access to antiretroviral treatments or closed enrollment to new clients altogether. An additional seven states have reported the potential need to implement restrictions in early 2003 based on current funding levels and projected trends in program utilization.
All other Ryan White programs are virtually flat-funded. President Bush further proposes a modest $5 million increase in the vital Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. GMHC said there is also an erosion of support for Medicaid beneficiaries with HIV/AIDS.