New York AIDS Activists, Lawmaker Demand Increase in State Budget for HIV/AIDS Services in Albany Protest
Hundreds of demonstrators yesterday protested at the New York state Capitol building in Albany demanding an increase in the state budget for funding of HIV/AIDS programs, AP/Newsday reports (AP/Newsday, 4/9). Sixty-one of the approximately 300 protestors, including Assembly member Roger Green (D), blocked the door to the Capitol as part of the protest and were arrested for "disorderly conduct," in what Albany police called "the largest civil disobedience act" there in more than 10 years (Coppola, Newsday, 4/10). The protestors called for the Legislature to restore $7.9 million in funding for the New York State Department of Health's AIDS Institute, which provides counseling and testing among other services, and $10 million for the Homeless Housing Assistance Program that Gov. George Pataki (R) cut in his budget proposal. They also called for $12 million in new funding for programs specifically targeting minority communities. According to state Department of Health spokesperson Kris Smith, an estimated 100,000 to 170,000 New York residents are HIV-positive, approximately 80% of whom are minorities. "When the epidemic had a different color the money was going up and up and up," Latino Commission on AIDS President Dennis DeLeon said, adding, "Now that the epidemic looks like us, the money is going down and down and down" (AP/Newsday, 4/9). Pataki spokesperson Kevin Quinn said that the governor's budget proposal, which provides $108 million in state funding for the AIDS Institute, allots $2.3 billion -- including federal funds -- to HIV/AIDS programs, making it "the highest level of funding in state history" (Newsday, 4/10). Those arrested were freed within hours of the incident (AP/Newsday, 4/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.