With San Francisco targeted to lose $3.7 million in funding for HIV care and prevention, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is urging government leaders to consider alternatives that would restore these vital services.
The state Office of AIDS informed the city about the reductions this week in response to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut all state support for HIV services except for AIDS drug assistance and disease surveillance. As a result, the Office of AIDS is reallocating its remaining federal funds, leaving San Francisco with a $2.4 million funding cut for HIV education, prevention, counseling and testing and a $1.3 million reduction for laboratory testing, primary medical care, and housing for people living with HIV.
“We urge the governor and the Legislature to reverse these destructive budget cuts by reconsidering revenue enhancements that would maintain the state’s safety net without hindering economic recovery,” said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “In times of fiscal crisis, responsibility for balancing the state budget and creating an emergency reserve fund should be borne by all of us and not just by the neediest people in California.”
With the Legislature back in session, Cloutier said lawmakers should reconsider a variety of budget solutions, many of which were agreed to but shelved before passing the state budget. If the cuts are allowed to stand, he said, California will lose cost-effective prevention programs that will lead to far more costly treatment of people who contract HIV.
The Office of AIDS informed the San Francisco AIDS Foundation that funding for its California HIV/AIDS Hotline will be cut by $100,000, one-third of its annual contract. Other cuts to HIV prevention and testing programs across the city will be determined by the city of San Francisco as determines how to distribute the diminished resources.
“Faced with an unprecedented $3.7 million cut to HIV prevention and care services, the city of San Francisco has the opportunity to continue its leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS by using its reserve funds to mitigate the worst of the state budget reductions,” said Cloutier.
Cloutier noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just reported a 10 percent drop in the overall HIV mortality rate for 2007, the largest one-year decline since 1998. He said the hopeful statistic was the result of more HIV-positive people receiving counseling, treatment and support services – all slated to be slashed by the state of California.
“This is the worst time to eliminate the very services that are helping people lead longer and more productive lives,” said Cloutier.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides leadership to prevent new HIV infections. Linking community experience with science, the Foundation develops ground-breaking prevention programs and bold policy initiatives to promote health and create sustainable progress against HIV. Established in 1982, the Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.