BOSTON, MA—Today, President Obama released his Fiscal 2013 budget, which contains recommendations for Ryan White CARE Act funding and support for the Administration’s historic National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
AIDS Action Committee President and CEO Rebecca Haag issued the following statement in response to the budget:
“President Barack Obama has shown real leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS by recommending additional funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which pays for life-saving medicine for people with AIDS; support for the priorities of National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections, increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities; and funding for the US Department of Justice to investigate cases of stigma and discrimination.
“President Obama’s budget also recommends that local jurisdictions exercise control over the use of federal funding for syringe exchange programs. Late last year, Congress instituted a ban on the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, which prioritized political ideology over public health. Since needle exchange programs were established in Massachusetts, the percentage of new cases of HIV attributable to injection drug use dropped from 41 percent in 1995 to under 10 percent in 2009. Aggressive prevention, education, and outreach to injection drug users is one of the many ways Massachusetts has been able to reduce new diagnoses of HIV by 54 percent since 1999. This has spared 5,699 people who otherwise would have become infected with HIV untold suffering, and it will also save the Commonwealth more than $2 billion in health care expenditures.
“The funds allocated for HIV and AIDS in President Obama’s budget are desperately needed to provide services and care for people living with HIV and AIDS. They are also needed to combat the spread of HIV, of which there are approximately 56,000 new cases in the US annually. Alarmingly, many of these new infections occur in young people in their teens and twenties. And African Americans, Latinos, and gay and bisexual men continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS.
“With this budget, President Obama is meeting his commitment to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States.”
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. Learn more at www.aac.org.