April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011
ADAP Receives $48 million Increase
Other HIV Dollars Cut

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear and I have been on the run all week.

Now for the latest news: ADAP receives $48 million increase but other HIV dollars are cut.

Low income people with HIV/AIDS were counting on an increase of at least $65 million, including continuation of $25 million that state ADAPs received this summer to help reduce the waiting lists.

"We congratulate the Congress and the Obama Administration for rejecting many of the massive cuts to domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs that were initially proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives. While most of these programs will experience some reductions, they will be spared from the reckless cuts which would have had serious long term impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV/AIDS and on efforts to prevent HIV infections in the future," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.

The final federal spending bill for Fiscal Year 2011 proposes to increase funding to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) by $48 million. "We are very appreciative of this increase, which demonstrates a real bipartisan commitment to the program. But, with 8,000 people in eleven states on waiting lists and thousands more already removed from the program, this is far from what is currently required and meet the growing number of new people needing ADAP medications in the coming year," added Schmid.

ADAPs provide medications to about one in four HIV positive people in care in the US and the demand for the program has skyrocketed due, in part, to people losing their health insurance. Over the course of one year, the federal government documented an increase of over 30,000 new people to the program.

"The ADAP crisis is far from over and will only be exacerbated with federal and state cuts to Medicaid as ADAP and the rest of the Ryan White Program will have to pick up those costs," said Schmid. The other parts of the Ryan White Program, which provide the necessary health care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, would see no increases in FY11, and instead be cut .2% at a time when patient loads are growing.

The final bill negotiated between the House, the Senate and the Obama Administration not only rejected many proposed program terminations and cuts but also most policy riders. "We are pleased that the Congress rejected the House Republican proposed federal and District of Columbia funding bans on syringe exchange programs. These programs are scientifically proven to be effective in the prevention of HIV and Hepatitis and it would have been devastating if these tools were to be removed due to irrational ideological purposes," said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.

Ruppal also expressed concern with the cuts to prevention programs at the CDC. "With over 56,000 new HIV infections annually in the US, now is not the time to cut CDC's prevention funding," said Ruppal. The bill cuts $730 million from the CDC in areas still yet to be determined. Earlier reports from the House Appropriations Committee indicating an over $1 billion cut to HIV/STD/Hepatitis and TB Prevention programs at the CDC were in error.

Sadly, the final bill cuts research funding at the National Institutes of Health by about $300 million. The House Republican bill proposed a cut of over $1.6 billion, including contributions to the Global Fund. Investing in HIV research will help in the discovery of new medications, new tools in the prevention of HIV, including vaccines, and ultimately a cure.

"With the long battle over levels of federal spending for FY11 almost over, we realize that this is just the beginning of efforts to cut government spending and the budget deficit," added Ruppal. "As the President and the Congress address these real problems, The AIDS Institute reminds all parties to not act in haste without first considering the long term human and societal impacts of their decisions. Our government must be responsible with taxpayers' money, but it also must be accountable to the basic human health needs of people," concluded Ruppal.

Just another reminder that all of us need to keep a close eye on what is happening with HIV and AIDS funding for people in our country.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab