Federal AIDS funding cuts called "devastating"

California AIDS activists last week called cuts in federal AIDS funding to most of the state's cities "devastating," noting that San Francisco alone will lose $4 million in AIDS dollars in 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. San Francisco's AIDS funding in fiscal 2005 was cut by 12% from 2004 levels, Oakland's funding was down 5.9%, and San Jose's funding was cut by 5.1%. The overall amount of Ryan White grants for 2005 was $595 million, down $5 million from 2004 levels.

Forty of the 51 largest U.S. metropolitan regions saw their Ryan White funding fall in fiscal 2005. New York City, however, received a 17.5% funding increase, and Sacramento's funding is up 12% over 2004 levels. Among the other cities with large funding cuts were St. Louis, which saw its grant chopped by 13.8%, and Newark, N.J., which received a 13.5% cut.

Bay Area officials called the cuts "devastating" and said they will affect legal aid, meals programs, transportation subsidies, substance abuse treatment, and alternative health care programs for HIV-positive people in the region. AIDS advocates plan to ask the city of San Francisco for increased financial support but don't expect to receive it because of a lingering budget deficit in the city. Some activists openly accused the conservative Bush administration of purposely cutting grants to liberal areas like San Francisco, but a Health and Human Services spokesman says politics were not a factor in the funding process and that all grants were awarded based on "an objective review."

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