San Francisco AIDS Foundation Sends Funding Recommendations to Governor, Legislature
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation yesterday "urged" California Gov. Gray Davis (D) and the state Legislature to "enact a comprehensive set of policy recommendations aimed at heightening the state's response to California's growing AIDS epidemic." In a six-page document, the foundation outlined recommendations for state funding for HIV programs, HIV care and treatment, prevention education and HIV tracking. To "assure care and treatment" of HIV-positive individuals, the foundation recommended increasing funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides HIV drugs to uninsured and low-income individuals, and expanding Medi-Cal to cover people in the "early stages of HIV disease." To prevent new HIV infections, SFAF also recommended legislation to allow over-the-counter sales of sterile syringes, funding for programs supporting safe sex and funding for treatment programs for gay men who abuse methamphetamines, a practice that has been "linked with increased HIV transmission."
In addition, the foundation called for the "successful implementation of an HIV reporting system using unique identifiers" (a coded system) rather than names, which would enable the state to track the epidemic without "inadvertently driving high risk individuals away from being tested." Dana Van Gorder, director of state and local policy for the AIDS Foundation, said, "California's HIV epidemic continues to grow and state officials must address this reality. Strong leadership by the governor and Legislature is crucial to assuring that Californians living with HIV are guaranteed health care and to addressing the alarming increase in new infections among gay men, people of color and women." The SFAF and the California HIV Advocacy Coalition have urged Davis and the state Legislature to increase state funding for AIDS treatment and prevention in FY 2001-2002 by $16.6 million, which would bring total state AIDS funding to $335.8 million (SFAF release, 2/14).