CANCEL THE CUTS!
CANCEL THE CUTS TO AIDS SERVIES IN BC - Public Rally of Support! Vancouver Art Gallery * December 18th * 12pm
WARNING HIV INFECTIONS WILL GO UP
Dec. 15, 2009 - BC Health Ministry marked World AIDS Day by delivering severe funding cuts to HIV/AIDS service directed Community Based Health Organizations (CBHO's.). 18% of Canada's estimated total HIV-positive population lives in BC. Given that BC represents approximately 13% of the overall population of Canada; BC has a disproportionate share of the HIV burden. These funding cuts by the government will create a severe public health risk.
Add your voice to the growing numbers of people who want to see these funding cuts canceled. This is a call to action. The BC government must CANCEL THE CUTS! www.cancelthecuts.org
About the Campaign
The BC Government has advised the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to balance their $2.9 billion dollar budget and recoup their $90 million deficit. The Vancouver Costal Health authority initiated financial reviews of 200 Community Based Health Organization's (CBHO's) contracts, under their funding jurisdiction, to find areas where they can recoup some of the health authority's huge deficit.
These financial reviews amount to three phases of funding cuts. The first rolled out on World AIDS Day 2009 (December 1) and the next two phases of cuts are set to hit Community Based Health Organizations in the fiscal year 2010/2011.
These first set of cuts equate to around $0.75 to $1 million in savings to the Health Authority, a miniscule dent to their $90 million deficit. But these cuts have a devastating and long lasting impact to Community Based Health Organizations.
Why are Community-Based Health Organizations important?
Community-Based Health Organizations (CBHO's) provide integral and life saving services for many people who are unable to access traditional government health services. Many CBHO's support a large proportion of BC's underserved and marginalized populations. Due to the social determinants to health, many of these populations are unable to access traditional government health services and therefore are unable to manage their health without support from CBHO's.
Not only do these CBHO's provide effective support to the HIV-positive community, they provide education, harm reduction and volunteer opportunities to the provincial community as a whole. Their efforts and positive impact in the community have immense value that can't be quantitatively measured in dollars alone.
CBHO's are an exemplary example of cost effective public health delivery. Given their low waged, highly skilled work force and large volunteer component, HIV/AIDS directed CBHO's are, dollar for dollar, the single most efficient element within the broad range of forces battling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in BC.
HIV/AIDS directed CBHO's in this province, have proven themselves time and time again to deliver innovative and effective programs on a shoe string budget, which not only reduce the HIV infection rates, but increase the health of HIV-positive individuals. This allows for a reduction in reliance on government health services, thus saving the government millions of dollars per year.
CBHO's don't just dish out medication; they focus on a multi faceted approach in combating HIV/AIDS. All HIV/AIDS directed CBHO's provide integral support services, advocacy, harm reduction, prevention and education, benefiting not only HIV-positive individuals but the larger community as well.
Each new HIV infection relates to a conservative estimate of $250, 000 in medical costs, over the life span of HIV-positive individuals. BC would only need 360 new infections to equal VCH's $90 million deficit. It is guaranteed that cutting CBHO's funding and therefore crippling their ability to deliver prevention, harm reduction and support programs, those 360 new infection rates will be a reality within a very short time frame.
HIV in British Columbia
Twenty five years ago BC was at the forefront of the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, now we have an HIV infection rate disproportionately higher than the national average.
In 2005 (the last year in which epi-data on HIV prevalence was published) there were an estimated 10,420 people living with HIV in BC, representing approximately 18% of Canada's estimated total HIV-positive population (58,000 individuals). Given that BC represents approximately 13% of the overall population of Canada; BC has a disproportionate share of HIV burden.
In 2007 (the last year for which we have data) 395 British Columbians were newly diagnosed. The rate of new infections in BC is likewise unparalleled, with 9.1 NI/100,000 people infected annually, versus 7.5 NI/100,000 for all of Canada. In some areas of Vancouver the HIV infection rate is at the same level as Sub-Sahara Africa.
At a time when vulnerability to HIV is so high, why is the BC Government choosing to cut the one sector of the BC community who is dedicated to reducing HIV prevalence?
Who's Being Cut?
HIV infections will go up
"Fewer HIV/AIDS programs will absolutely result in increased infection rates...For the government to think that they will be saving money by cutting HIV/AIDS programs is ludicrous. The Province should triple funding for HIV/AIDS CBHO's rather than make cuts."
-Dr. Mark Tyndall, Program Director, Epidemiology, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Head, Division of Infectious Diseases, Providence Health Care