WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2008 — In President Bush’s last State of the Union Address, he referred to the administration’s “unfinished business.” One week later, it is clear from the President’s FY 2009 Budget Request that the unfinished business of this administration includes a complete failure to address the health and well being of people and communities affected by and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The President’s budget for domestic HIV/AIDS programs is inadequate to meet the growing needs of the epidemic here. It is, in short, utterly shameful. The President’s budget reflects the absence of a National AIDS Strategy that is focused on ending the epidemic and caring for all those affected. Instead, the President’s budget targets for dismissal the needs of our most stigmatized and marginalized people.
AIDS Action Council is shocked that President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2009 (FY2009) budget proposes either flat funding for or drastic cuts to HIV/AIDS programs while the HIV epidemic continues to ravage communities nationwide, especially African American and Latino communities. The proposed $8 million cut in the Ryan White CARE Act Title I (Part A) program will harm metropolitan areas most impacted by HIV/AIDS as they struggle to provide HIV care and treatment. The cut of $1 million for domestic HIV prevention programs is proposed as we await the release of new HIV surveillance numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that are expected to show an estimated increase of 20 thousand new HIV infections annually in the United States to more than 60,000 new cases annually.
At a time when the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is at its highest, including 500,000 people not receiving HIV care and with resulting demand for a trained HIV health care workforce at its peak, the President’s budget proposes to decrease funding for AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs) by $5 million, which would diminish the number of trained HIV/AIDS providers in minority and rural communities.
“President Bush should know by now that HIV continues to increase in this country because we have not set aside the proper amount of funds with the proper national AIDS strategy to address our diverse epidemic,” said AIDS Action’s Executive Director, Rebecca Haag. “If he wanted to address the unfinished business of those living with HIV in the United States he would have submitted a very different budget. We now look to our U.S. Congress to stand tall and do what is right and fund HIV prevention, treatment and CARE in this country. Ignore President Bush’s final budget and increase the HIV domestic funding portfolio.”