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Federal Budget Update: Good News for HIV & AIDS Programs

, by Reilly O'Neal

This morning President Obama released his administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (starting October 1, 2013), with welcome news for people living with HIV/AIDS and their allies: The budget restores millions of dollars earmarked for the lifesaving AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and Ryan White Part C–funded HIV clinics and increases funding in other areas vital to the health of people living with or at high risk for HIV.

“The administration has sent a strong and clear signal to the Congress that it continues to prioritize HIV/AIDS and is committed to realizing the AIDS-free generation envisioned by President Obama and Secretary Clinton in a series of speeches over the last two years,” notes Ernest Hopkins, San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s director of legislative affairs.

The President’s Budget: By the Numbers

Here’s how the budget numbers break down for HIV/AIDS programs and services:

  • $10 million in new funding to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.
  • $10 million in new funding to the Ryan White Part C early intervention medical clinics.
  • $50 million in World AIDS Day 2011 Emergency Funds built into the Ryan White FY 2014 baseline.
  • $10 million increase to HIV-specific prevention services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) targeted to expanding surveillance and facilitating insurance reimbursement by public health systems for sexually transmitted infection screenings.
  • $1.2 billion for domestic HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and tuberculosis (TB) services in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, a $14 million increase over FY 2012 levels.
  • $40 million earmarked for the HHS Community High-Impact Prevention Initiative, focused largely on improving HIV testing programs, linking people with HIV to care and services, and supporting effective behavioral interventions and public health strategies for at-risk populations.
  • 6% increase to the Veterans Administration’s HIV budget, to $1.1 billion.
  • $322 million in Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) and a modernized funding formula that targets resources to low-income individuals in high-cost areas.

“The administration’s budget also redirects $40 million from ‘less effective activities’ to support a new $40 million initiative to improve systems that link individuals recently diagnosed with HIV to care,” Hopkins observes. According to administration briefings, he explains, “these resources will be used to address the challenges tied to the ‘treatment cascade’ and therefore focused on high-incidence urban areas and black Americans.”

Hopkins also reports a 7.46% boost to the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights, an increased designed to establish a position that will focus on “eliminating stigma-based discrimination in the workplace, as well as establishing a partnership with state prosecutors and state legislators to review and update HIV criminalization laws to reflect current scientific knowledge about HIV treatment advances, HIV risk, and mortality and morbidity.”

What’s Next?

President Obama’s budget sets a “high-water mark” for HIV/AIDS funding and reflects the tireless work of HIV/AIDS advocates across the country, but San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Hopkins stresses that the fight is far from over: “We’re tremendously excited about the Obama administration’s budget and its targeted increases for HIV/AIDS services and programs, but this is the beginning of the process, not the end.”

The president’s budget next informs the budget negotiations between the Congress and the administration, as the Congress attempts to craft a comprehensive budget agreement that eliminates the sequester and provides budget caps for the appropriations process (launching soon in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees). In short, this is just the beginning of a long process of negotiations to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2014.

What can advocates do to keep up the momentum and support federal funding for these lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs and services? Pick up the phone or open your email and contact your members of Congress! They need to hear that, as Hopkins puts it, “at the end of the congressional negotiations, we want to achieve or come as close as possible to the funding levels set out in the Obama budget.”

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San Francisco AIDS Foundation will also continue to advocate for the highest possible federal funding for programs and services that protect the health of people living with or at risk for HIV. Stay tuned for more updates as the budget process continues on Capitol Hill.

Reilly O’Neal is a freelance writer and former editor of BETA.

Selected Sources

Department of Health and Human Services. FY 2014 Budget in Brief: Strengthening Health and Opportunity for All Americans. http://www.hhs.gov/budget/index.html

Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget. Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview

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