HRC Says HIV Shortchanged by Clinton Budget 
     By Norm Kent 

WASHINGTON - President Clinton’s new budget today, proposed increased spending on key HIV/AIDS programs, but comes up short on funding for crucial prevention efforts, the Human Rights Campaign declared on Wednesday.

While the overall budget is laudable, more prevention dollars are needed - especially in minority communities where the spread of HIV continues to outpace efforts to slow it down, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"We are pleased with the overall funding which will help initiate new research and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS, " said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "Unfortunately, the lack of funding for prevention will ensure that this disease continues to march undeterred and cause even more devastation, particularly in communities of color."

The budget proposes an increase of only $40 million for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This increase does not reflect the urgent need to address CDC reports that there are an estimated 40,000 new infections each year. The problem is especially acute in minority populations, according to HRC. For gay African-American men, AIDS deaths dropped 35 percent in 1997 and 17 percent in 1998, while comparable reductions for whites were 51 percent and 22 percent, respectively. 

Surgeon General David Satcher reported that AIDS death rates for African Americans remained nearly 10 times higher than for whites. Adding to these numbers is the CDC finding that young African-American gay men were five times more likely to contract HIV compared to other young gay men.

Clinton's requested 8 percent funding increase of $125 million for the Ryan White CARE Act (RWCA), and an additional $26 million for the State AIDS Drug Assistance Program should be applauded, says HRC. For over ten years, the RWCA has helped more than 500,000 people impacted by HIV and AIDS who have received care and assistance through this program.

"We are looking forward to working with the administration and Congress on adequate funding levels for the Ryan White CARE Act, as well as ensuring reauthorization without negative amendments," said Stachelberg. "With more and more people living with AIDS, care and assistance programs remain a> critical component of caring for families impacted by HI and AIDS."

The president also proposed an increase in funds for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) - a program which provides housing assistance and supportive services for low-income people with HIV/AIDS and their families. HOPWA received a $260 million increase for FY 2001, about a 12 percent increase over FY 2000.

Clinton also proposed a $105 million increase in HIV/AIDS research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This funding would be utilized for HIV and AIDS research, which will bring our nation closer to developing a vaccine or a cure and help in development of new drugs, says> HRC. The increase in funding will bring the total funding for NIH HIV/AIDS research to more than $2.1 billion.

Last year, the administration and Congress again worked together to provide generous funding for some areas of the fight against HIV/AIDS. For example, the budget deal included generous funding increases for vital life-saving programs, including a 13 percent increase for the Ryan White CARE Act, and a 15 percent increase for medical research at the National Institutes for Health (NIH). The bill also received a last minute modest funding increase of 6 percent for HIV prevention activities at the CDC.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization with members throughout the country. It lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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