Revamped federal Ryan White funding formulas and overall budget cuts are expected to result in a loss of 12% of funding for Utah's AIDS programs, which could curtail some essential services, including those providing anti-HIV medications to low-income state residents, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Stuart Merrill, an AIDS health care advocate, says as many as 200 HIV-positive people could lose access to antiretroviral treatment. Merrill says he has alerted state lawmakers about the funding crisis and is urging the approval of more state AIDS funds, but Utah senator Lyle Hillyard says additional funds are unlikely due to a tight state budget and the slated completion of the state's budgeting process on Friday.
"This is an emotional issue," state health department director David Sundwall told the Tribune. "If you don't have those drugs, you die. Most of the people these [programs] help are working, taxpaying, productive members of society. We can now treat this as a chronic illness, like diabetes. But we need these medications."