Congress passed the fiscal year 2003 omnibus appropriations bill on February 13, providing government funds for programs from October 1 through September 30, 2004. Among the provisions in the bill were spending increases over 2002 funding levels of $96 million for Ryan White AIDS programs, $34.7 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and $14 million for Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS. The National Institutes of Health also received an extra $3.83 billion over fiscal 2002 funding levels, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration got an extra $98 million, but only part of the new funds for those two agencies will be used for HIV/AIDS-related research or services. Of the new money allocated for Ryan White programs, about $80 million will go to AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The bill will be sent to President Bush this week for final approval.
"There was a collective sigh of relief as we realized that Americans living with HIV disease will continue to have access to life-saving programs and services as a result of this legislation," said Jesse Fry, director of government affairs and advocacy at Florida AIDS Action. "We anxiously await the president's signature on the bill and the opportunity to move forward in ensuring that the nearly 1 million men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS in our nation receive the care that they need."