AIDS FUNDING: Advocacy Groups Protest Proposed Budget Cuts
California HIV/AIDS advocacy groups Friday voiced their displeasure with newly elected Gov. Gray Davis' (D) proposed budget for fiscal year 1999, charging that it "includes an overall reduction in state funding for HIV/AIDS programs despite growing need for such services." According to the California HIV Advocacy Coalition, the $4.1 million cut is in response to higher than expected federal funding for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). CHAC Executive Committee Member Fred Dillon said that Davis and state legislators should "re-allocate existing state funds to other critical programs, rather than eliminating such funds altogether." Advocates argue that the savings made possible by the federal funding increase should go to programs that have been "flat funded" for many years, such as early treatment centers, case management and housing. CHAC Executive Committee Member Anne Donnelly said, "The number of people living with AIDS in California has increased nearly 200% in the past five years. It is imperative that the state budget reflect this fact." The organization also expressed concern that if the money is transferred away from the HIV/AIDS budget, California will not meet the "maintenance of effort" requirement mandated by the Ryan White CARE Act. Other complaints included the failure to restore $1.6 million in funds for HIV testing at family planning clinics that were cut by former Gov. Pete Wilson (R), and the fact that HIV prevention funding remains flat despite the fact that approximately 8,000 Californians are newly infected each year (CHAC release, 1/8). AIDS Project Los Angeles Executive Director Craig Thompson said, "We are concerned about the flat funding of many HIV programs, particularly in the area of HIV prevention and education. This is contrary to the recent commitment made by the federal government. ... We believe the state budget needs to reflect this level of commitment as well" (APLA release, 1/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.