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HIV/AIDS funding aligns with advocacy goals
Abstinence funding is out; needle exchange is in
The final version of the federal HIV/AIDS program budget for fiscal year 2010 is about as close to what AIDS advocates have wanted as they've seen in nearly a decade.
Just about all programs from HIV prevention money to HIV/AIDS treatment and research funding have been given millions of dollars extra in federal appropriations.
"We have seen some increases in domestic funding to reverse the dismal trend we have been experiencing in recent years of reduced or flat funding," says Ronald Johnson, deputy executive director of AIDS Action Council in Washington, DC.
"The Obama administration is mindful of the neglect of the domestic academic and domestic HIV epidemic and how it still is a very serious one that has impacted communities of color and gay men," Johnson says.
Here are some of the budget highlights:
AIDS funding better aligned with evidence-based science: Despite years of studies showing that abstinence-only education does not produce positive outcomes, the previous presidential administration and Congresses have approved over $100 million for such efforts and typically gave the programs spending increases, even when many other programs were cut.
Now this has reversed. The president's FY2011 budget proposes no funds for community-based abstinence education, and the FY2010 budget shows no funding, as well. This is a $99 million decrease from FY2009.
Also, the new budget includes a line item for a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative that is under the Labor Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Discretionary Budget Authority. This initiative was begun in FY2010 with $114.5 million in funding, and it's proposed to be increased in FY2011 with $133.7 million.
About $50 million for abstinence-only funding was put in the health care reform bill by a congressman, however, Johnson says.
"We had hoped to get that taken out," he adds.
First-time federal funding for needle exchange programs: "Lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange was a huge victory we achieved in the FY2010 budget," Johnson says.
"We are hopeful we are able to sustain that," he says. "We're remaining vigilant to make sure it's not reinstated."
The ban's removal will open the door for federal prevention efforts to include what studies of needle exchange programs have shown is a very effective way to stem the spread of HIV among injection drug users (IDUs).
CDC prevention programs: In recent years funding for surveillance and prevention under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been flat, undermining the CDC's mission to cut new HIV infections.
For instance, in FY2009, there was no new funding for the HIV Prevention and Surveillance budget. But for FY2010 there was an additional $36 million in funding, and the president's budget proposes another $31 million.