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U.S. regions
continue to battle over Ryan White reauthorization

U.S. regions
continue to battle over Ryan White reauthorization

Advocates in the South as well as the West and Northeast disagree on the amount of current per capita spending per HIV patient.

Many Southern AIDS advocates continue to push for changes in how federal Ryan White AIDS funds are allocated throughout the United States, claiming current funding formulas shortchange HIV patients in the South. A report by the Government Accountability Office shows that under the current Ryan White funding formulas, which are based in part on a region's cumulative number of AIDS cases since the beginning of the epidemic, California receives $5,624 per HIV patient compared with just $3,675 for an HIV patient in Alabama.

But AIDS advocates for states that have had large numbers of AIDS patients since the early 1980s--and continue to have large HIVer populations--say the GAO study is flawed. They instead point to a Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief report, which demonstrates that many Southern states already receive more money per HIV patient than the national average. The CAEAR report also shows that HIV-positive Southerners in many cases are allocated more federal AIDS funds than HIV patients in large urban areas elsewhere.

Southern AIDS advocates, however, are continuing to press for changes in the Ryan White funding formulas, saying the need for the money is greater in places like the South that have growing epidemics than in areas with level or diminishing numbers of new HIV cases. Lawmakers from California, New York, and other states with long-established HIV epidemics are opposed to any such changes that could cost their states tens of millions in AIDS funds.

Many AIDS advocates are hoping for a significantly larger allocation for the Ryan White Act so that all regions of the country could receive adequate federal funding, but they concede that large spending increases are unlikely given the ongoing federal budget deficit and reluctance by lawmakers to boost spending.

Congress is currently discussing reauthorization of the Ryan White Act and is debating possible changes to the act's funding formularies. A decision on Ryan White reauthorization is expected by the end of the summer, possibly as early as June, say Congressional sources. (The Advocate)

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