Members of the New York State Minority Legislative Caucus on Wednesday called on Gov. George Pataki to restore nearly $12 million in funding for HIV prevention programs that he had cut from his proposed budget, and they also urged the governor to boost spending on HIV antiretroviral drugs for low-income residents by $96 million, Newsday reports. Pataki's current budget includes a total of $2.6 billion in AIDS funding, an increase of $288 million over 2002 levels. But the budget cuts $11.9 million from prevention programs at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, which focuses much of its efforts on minority communities.
The Minority Legislative Caucus called for the funding to be restored, citing statistics that show that 90% of HIV-positive women in New York are black or Hispanic. The also urged Pataki to boost spending on the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides steeply discounted anti-HIV medications to poor HIV-positive residents in the state. "This problem will continue to exist unless we make it a priority to target those in need to fight this disease, and women of color are most in need," said Assemblyman Roger Green, chairman of the caucus. "We don't want this problem to be marginalized."