The following is from HRC Senior Public Policy Advocate Andrea Levario:
Yesterday, the White House released its proposal to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2012. These are difficult economic times to be sure, but President Obama, again this year, presented a budget which either increases or maintains spending for HIV/AIDS programs. This is the second year in which funding for critical health programs have been improved, and of course, is long overdue.
In recognition of the toll that HIV/AIDS continues to exact from communities across this nation, the President showed leadership in recommending new resources to help fight the epidemic. At the Department of Health and Human Services the overall investment in combating the epidemic now stands at $ 3.5 billion. Included in those funds is $ 858 million for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $ 58 million over FY 10. Another $ 80 million of new money is recommended to assist states in providing life-saving medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs). The ADAPs are one component of the critical treatment programs under the Ryan White CARE Act, which also received an $ 88 million increase in funding. Federal HIV/AIDS research efforts at the National Institutes of Health will benefit from an additional $ 74 million taking the overall portfolio to $ 2.7 billion.
Last July, the President announced the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). At the time, HRC and others expressed concern that no resources accompanied the NHAS for implementation. Now, the FY 2012 budget includes new resources ($ 10 million) for the Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning (ECHPP) initiative, to aid metropolitan areas most affected by the HIV epidemic, bringing the overall funding for ECHPP’s to $ 22 million in FY12. An additional $ 20.4 million is provided to support cost-effective evidence based demonstration projects, and to test prevention interventions to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people.
As it did last year, the HHS budget proposal also defunds disproven abstinence-only education programs in favor of teen pregnancy prevention efforts that provide evidence-based, medically-accurate resources to reduce the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The President’s budget increases funding for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the rigorous enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws, which includes the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It also increases funding for DOJ’s Community Relations Services to prevent and respond to community tensions that can lead to hate crimes. In addition, the budget calls for $ 5 million to fund a DOJ program to oversee a comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence and effects of sexual abuse in prison, which effects vulnerable prison communities including members of the LGBT community.
The current economic environment has forced the Administration to make difficult decisions about programmatic funding, which will have serious ramifications in years to come. We applaud the President for his continued support and recognition of the need to strengthen civil rights enforcement and to make critical investments in health programs which serve and benefit LGBT Americans.
Click here to view an OMB budget fact sheet on expanding opportunities for the LGBT community.
Click here to view an OMB budget fact sheet on fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.