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AIDS programs could be hurt by new budget

AIDS programs could be hurt by new budget

Governor's proposed budget leaves 33 state AIDS positions unfunded

AIDS officials in Baltimore say proposed changes to Maryland's AIDS Administration budget could result in the elimination of 33 staff members at the administration and reduce funding for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, The Baltimore Sun reports. Last year state lawmakers phased out a contract with the University of Maryland that shifted 74 AIDS workers, including some research staff members and those working in HIV antibody testing and counseling centers, to the AIDS Administration. Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.'s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, includes funds for only 41 of those positions at the AIDS Administration, leaving 33 positions in danger of being eliminated.

"Baltimore will be affected because the bulk of the money goes to places with the highest need, the most concentrated numbers," Kima J. Taylor, Baltimore's assistant commissioner for health promotion and disease prevention, told the Sun.

The state's ADAP also could lose funding through Ehrlich's budget proposal, which diverts $6 million from an estimated $11 million in ADAP drug rebates to the state's general fund. AIDS experts say drug companies may eliminate the rebates if the savings aren't applied solely to the drug program, leaving the ADAP far short of the money it needs to provide antiretroviral medications to low-income Maryland residents. They also say the $11 million in rebates is an estimate; the actual savings could be far less than projected. (

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