Massachusetts Activists Criticize State Budget Cuts to HIV/AIDS Programs
AIDS activists in Massachusetts said last week that the restoration in the state budget of $2.5 million for HIV/AIDS programs will not be enough to save many programs from "drastic" cuts or even elimination, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. In her proposed budget, acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) originally allocated about $39.6 million for HIV/AIDS programs, $12.2 million less than last fiscal year. Swift later proposed an $85 million supplemental budget that restored $2.5 million in AIDS funding, which state lawmakers approved last week. However, the final $9.7 million reduction in funding for HIV/AIDS programs still threatens to cause a "dramatic jump" in the number of new AIDS cases, according to some AIDS advocates. "The $2.5 million is just not enough. We need $10 million more," Edla Bloom, executive director of AIDS Project Worcester, said. Advocates say that the spending reductions "will mean drastic slashes to, or the elimination of, case management, housing, mental health, nutrition, respite, child care and other services for people with the virus." In addition, the Telegram & Gazette reports that the budget cuts are "expected to eliminate most prevention and education programs." Dr. Erik Garcia, medical director of the Homeless and Outreach Advocacy Program, called the cuts "morally reprehensible." He stated that fighting HIV/AIDS requires a "multi-faceted approach" that must include programs to provide housing, education and prevention as well as medications (Kush, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 12/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.