HIV/AIDS Prevention Education ‘Critical’ Despite Davis’ Proposed Funding Increase for Medication
Although Gov. Gray Davis' (D) proposed budget calls for a "substantial" funding increase for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, "[o]ther elements of society" must work on HIV/AIDS prevention and eduction efforts, a San Jose Mercury News editorial says. Despite state revenue shortfalls, the budget plan, including state funds and matching federal funds, will bring to $184.5 million the funding available to help uninsured patients purchase AIDS drugs -- "almost double" the program's budget when it started five years ago. Although this is "great news" for the 26,000 people assisted by the program, the editorial notes that "prevention and education are still essential," as HIV/AIDS is "still fatal" and the virus is "mutating into drug-resistant strains faster than science can keep up." However, Davis' budget is "flat" in these areas, proposing $36 million for eduction and prevention and $10 million for counseling and testing -- the same level of funding as in the current fiscal year, the editorial says. Therefore, parents and educators must "insist" that schools provide comprehensive sex education, the Mercury News states, adding that localities should create needle-exchange programs -- which have been proven to reduce HIV transmission rates -- and churches and "ethnically oriented social groups should reach out to high-risk populations." While "it's good" that state and federal governments are willing to pay for HIV/AIDS medications, the editorial concludes that "the rest of society must pitch in to reduce the number of people who end up needing those drugs" (San Jose Mercury News, 1/21).