We are deeply concerned that the bill passed today by the U.S. House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee represents a devastating blow to public health that would undermine our nation’s progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment. The bill’s proposed increase for AIDS medications is a welcome gesture, but not at the expense of major cuts to other programs critical to our response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including comprehensive care services supported by the Ryan White Program and prevention supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The bill includes no funding for implementing the recently upheld Affordable Care Act; fully implementing the health care reform law is critical in ensuring early and reliable access to HIV care and treatment for everyone who needs it. The legislation also slashes funding slated for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides vital support for the preservation and promotion of the nation’s public health.
The flat funding of the National Institutes of Health would stifle HIV/AIDS research when we are on the verge of game-changing scientific breakthroughs. The bill also imposes harmful ineffective policies, including a ban on federal funding for life-saving syringe exchange programs and renewed support for failed abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs.
This legislation, if it moves forward, represents a setback in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, threatens the great progress that we have made toward reaching our goal of an AIDS-free world, and may lead to increased rates of HIV infection and less care and treatment for those who need it. We urge lawmakers to reject this bill, and pass legislation that is more in line with the Senate committee-approved bill’s (S. 3295) proposals for HIV/AIDS related funding and policies.
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is the professional home for more than 5,000 physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. For more information, visit www.hivma.org.
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