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Elements of Federal Spending Bill Jeopardize Nation's
"AIDS-free Generation" Goal

Statement of HIV Medicine Association Chair-elect Michael Horberg, MD, MAS, FIDSA

Dec. 16, 2011 - As Congress finalizes federal funding for key domestic and global HIV and health programs for fiscal year 2012, the feasibility of turning the tide on the HIV pandemic has been tempered by fiscal constraints and a return to federal policies based on ideology rather than science.

We are pleased that Congress sustained funding for domestic HIV care and increased funding for treatment by $15 million through the Ryan White Program in the proposed omnibus spending bill. The modest increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health also will be critical to maintain the HIV-related research portfolio that has supported the discoveries that will make an "AIDS-free generation" attainable. However, we are concerned by a reported decrease in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for HIV prevention at school-based health centers at a time when young people account for nearly 40 percent of new HIV infections.

By reinstating the ban on the use of federal funds for needle exchange and by funding abstinence-only sex education prevention programs, the bill is a serious setback for evidenced-based prevention policy and for the global battle against HIV infection. As Secretary Clinton outlined so well in a recent speech, we need to employ all available, scientifically proven prevention tools, including needle exchange, to make real headway against this deadly disease. The benefits of needle exchange in preventing HIV infection are well established, whereas abstinence-only sex education prevention programs have been shown to be ineffective.

On the global front, the $93 million cut to the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is disappointing. This cut comes on the heels of President Obama's important declaration on World AIDS Day that combating AIDS is a U.S. policy priority and that the U.S. will put 6 million people globally on antiretroviral therapy by 2013. These cuts will jeopardize this effort.

We applaud the $236 million dedicated to global tuberculosis programs. While we are also pleased with the $1.05 billion given to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, this funding allocation still puts us behind on reaching our three-year pledge to contribute $4 billion to the fund by 2013.

We also commend Congress for continuing funding for the Military HIV Research Program through the Department of Defense spending bill. This critical program leads the field in HIV vaccine research and provides care and treatment for many living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

As Congress completes its work on the omnibus spending bill - we urge lawmakers to reject any efforts to enact across the board cuts to these vital programs.

###

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is the professional home for more than 4,500 physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. For more information, visit www.hivma.org.www.hivma.org.

CONTACT:

Contact Name: John Heys
Contact E-mail: jheys@idsociety.org
Contact Phone: 703-299-0412



Reproduced with permission - "HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) "

HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)
www.hivma.org


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