Michael Crawford

Congress Cuts HIV Prevention Funding

Filed By Michael Crawford | December 21, 2007 9:45 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, gay men, gay men's health, HIV prevention, HIV/AIDS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been sitting on data that shows that nearly 50% more Americans are infected with HIV than originally estimated which makes this the perfect time for Congress to cut funding for HIV prevention. The cuts occurred in an omnibus spending bill that will fund 14 federal agencies for 2008.

Among its provisions are just under $2.2 billion for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which funds services for people with AIDS provided by states, cities, and private AIDS groups, and $692 million for the CDC's HIV prevention programs, which got $695 million in the 2007 fiscal year.

Included in the Senate version of the bill was an additional $40 billion for the Iraq war. That makes total sense right? Let's spend more money to blow stuff up and continue a completely unnecessary war rather than spending money to educate Americans on how to prevent becoming infected with HIV.

We are 26 years into the epidemic and there is still no comprehensive national strategy for dealing with AIDS. The next president has to make the creation and implementation of a national AIDS strategy a top priority.

As David Munar of AIDS Foundation Chicago and Prevention Justice says

CDC’s own 2001 HIV Prevention Strategic Plan, which set the important goal of reducing new HIV infections to a level of 20,000 per year by 2005 (a 50 percent reduction), quietly expired two year ago without any progress. A decade of flat funding, inadequate money for HIV prevention (and care) from the start, and poor investments for the scarce resources that have been made available—such as failure to fund needle exchange, comprehensive sexuality education, and other proven interventions—are largely (but not entirely) to blame. We also need to figure out what other psychosocial and structural factors (i.e. stigma, homophobia, racism) contribute to high rates of HIV transmission in the U.S. and what can be done about them.

Quite simply, failure to invest in proven interventions (and at adequate amounts) fails to produce desired results. This is why a comprehensive national AIDS strategy with measurable goals and objectives—and the accountability mechanisms to sustain and measure progress—is so desperately needed.

Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

One can't help but look at this as an intentional "oversight" by the US government.

This is horrible news.

By the way, I thought for sure you'd cover the lifted ban on city funds being used for needle-exchange programs in DC. Some small piece of good news at least.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 21, 2007 10:53 AM

Nick, you are right about the ban on needle exchange being lifted. i covered it on my home blog Bloggernista here: http://bloggernista.com/2007/12/19/needle-exchange-oked-for-dc/.

Congress has oversight over how the D.C. government can spend its money and has held up using public funds for needle exchange programs for a decade. The D.C. government has announced that it will spend $1,000,000 for needle exchange in the coming year.

I'm curious about this quote:
"We know that we're going to be hearing soon about increased HIV incidence rates," said Sean R. Cahill, managing director of public policy, research, and community health at the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), an AIDS group. "It's unclear if things are getting worse or if they have always been worse, but we do know that things are worse... Given that, we need to be spending more on HIV prevention."

Here's my question:
If things haven't gotten any better and/or are getting worse then will a lack of funding for HIV prevention even make a difference? Something is being blatantly disregarded and I'm not sure millions of dollars will help.

Of course it's upsetting and alarming to hear that the government is skimming off the top on a domestic crisis but I think prevention 101 (wear a condom) is already out as much as it can be- I think at this point it's about internal community dialogue, realistic real-life media portrayed scenerios and sex communication regarding the individual and their relationship to sex. The self, self-worth and responsibility must come before passion and the rest will follow.

The gay organizations are nothing short of heroes for their time, efforts and passion but we need to stop placing all the responsibility on their shoulders and start looking at ourselves as the solution and dialogue to these rates and statistics. That doesn't require millions of dollars.

Well, we DO need adequate funding to counter the effects of poverty, substance abuse and mental illness - to name but a few of the conditions that drive HIV incidence. Having a community dialogue is all well and good, and getting folks to look at themselves in the mirror regarding their personal behaviors - great - but there are STRUCTURAL issues at play here that cannot be fixed by individuals alone. It isn't that people are CHOOSING to engage in risky/"bad" behaviors - it is often the case that their choices are limited. We have to work to create a society where people are ABLE to choose healthy behaviors. This is going to take resources!
- Jim Pickett

Thanks, Eric. Certainly some people will want to bame prevention organizations for failure to slow new HIV infections in the U.S., but this is really over simplifying the matter.

To use an analogue, if HIV were a raging fire you would need more than water guns and pales of sand to put it out. Would you blame the firefighters for being poorly equipped or the municipality for not making sure they have adequate resources to do the job? HIV is our raging fire and our frontline fighters have scarcely any resources to put up a fight, much level figure the right ways to help those at risk.

HIV prevention messages much change and respond to the times, and the strategies you describe are exactly how HIV prevention needs to change. But unfortunately, HIV prevention organizations in the U.S. have LESS FUNDING today than they did TEN YEARS AGO! It's no wonder, then, we are losing the fight to control HIV in the U.S. because we are simply not making it a budgetary or public health priority to do so.

Making progress in HIV prevention will require much more than money, of course, but our budgetary priorities speak volumes about what we care about as a nation. If we don't invest in slowing HIV we should not be shocked when we learn new cases are climbing.

Read more on these topics at: http://www.preventionjustice.org/blog/david-m. And a big wet shout out to bilerico.com for focusing light on important sujects! You ROCK!

Just think of all the causes we could work on by just not spending the war charges...