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AIDS groups blast Bush's proposed 2006 budget

AIDS groups blast Bush's proposed 2006 budget

AIDS organizations on Monday reacted with alarm to President Bush's proposed fiscal $2.57 trillion 2006 budget, which includes steep funding cuts for most government programs but provides a $38 million increase for abstinence-only sex and HIV prevention programs for youths and a 4.2% increase for global AIDS programs administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Funding for numerous health programs was slashed in the budget, and others programs--including the Ryan White Act, which provides HIV/AIDS services--were flat-funded. The federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides free or low-cost antiretroviral drugs to low-income HIV patients, received a $10 million funding increase in Bush's budget proposal, only a small fraction of the $217 million funding increase AIDS experts say the program needs in 2006 to avoid curtailing enrollment or cutting back on the numbers of drugs provided. The Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program received a $14 million funding cut in Bush's budget proposal. AIDS Project Los Angeles said Bush's budget proposal fails to follow through on the president's pledge to fight AIDS, made in his State of the Union address last week. "The president asked Congress to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act to encourage prevention, care, and treatment for HIV/AIDS," said APLA executive director Craig E. Thompson in a statement. "[In his budget] he all but flat-funded the very same program and cut other funding for people living with HIV/AIDS." The National Association of People With AIDS is calling on Congress to reject Bush's budget proposal, saying it ignores the need for increases in essential HIV health care, treatment, and housing programs. "It is irresponsible to propose reducing funds to the CDC in the middle of an epidemic," said NAPWA executive director Terje Anderson in a press statement. "It is irresponsible to refuse to provide significant increases to the Minority AIDS Initiative and the Ryan White CARE Act while HIV rages among African-Americans and other racial minorities. Homeland security begins at home by ensuring the health and safety of all Americans. NAPWA calls on all Americans concerned about the lives of those of us living with HIV and at risk of HIV infection to contact their members of Congress to ask that the president's ill-considered HIV budget proposals be rectified." NAPWA is specifically calling on federal lawmakers to boost the CDC's budget by an additional $360 million for HIV prevention; to boost funding for the Ryan White CARE Act and ADAP; to increase grants to the Minority AIDS Initiative; to reverse Bush's proposed 40% funding cut to the Community Development Block Grant program, which helps fund community health clinics; to prevent any funding cuts that would result in enrollment caps or limit access to Medicaid; to restore eliminated HOPWA funding; to cancel the debt for the world's poorest nations so they can devote more money to fighting AIDS within their borders; and to allocate $1.3 billion more than Bush has requested for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

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