“The resolution of the debt ceiling negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders has HIV/AIDS advocates concerned that federal funds for prevention and drug initiatives could be on the chopping block as a result of the agreement,” the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson is reporting. That deal would raise the debt ceiling through 2012 by immediately cutting $917 billion from mostly discretionary spending and empowering a joint congressional committee to recommend $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in additional cuts. HIV/AIDS programs could be targeted in both rounds of reductions and through spending triggers that would go into effect should Congress fail to enact the committee’s recommendations.
All federal funding of discretionary HIV/AIDS programs could see an impact as a result of the decision, HIV/AIDS activists warn, “including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and AIDS research programs.”
Unfortunately, the deal comes on the heals of a new government released report, which found that while the number of people infected with HIV each year is relatively steady, rates of infection have gone up significantly among men who have sex with men (MSM), especially for those who are African American. “The current level of HIV incidence in the United States is likely not sustainable,” the report found, since the large and growing number of people living with HIV infections means more people can transmit the virus. If current prevention efforts “are not intensified,” the country could see “significant increases in new infections.”