Massachusetts Medical Experts, Activists Discuss Plan to Save HIV/AIDS Programs While Facing More Budget Cuts
Hundreds of Massachusetts doctors, social workers and activists on Wednesday gathered at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for a conference to develop a "battle plan" for the state's HIV/AIDS programs, which have had their funding "slashed" as a result of the state's budget crisis, the Boston Globe reports (Smith, Boston Globe, 4/11). The Massachusetts Legislature in November approved a $22.6 billion budget that included a $12 million cut for AIDS programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/27/01). The cuts have occurred even though the programs have experienced a 30% increase in demand for services over the past five years (Boston Globe, 4/11). The budget of the state HIV/AIDS Bureau may face an additional $4 million cut in 2002, Director Jean McGuire said (Lasalandra, Boston Herald, 4/11). Activists at the conference, titled " HIV/AIDS: Hard Times, Hard Choices," said the proposed budget cuts could "devastate" HIV/AIDS programs that "have made Massachusetts the envy of the nation in terms of prevention and treatment of AIDS." AIDS Action Founding Director Larry Kessler said, "What a shame on us if we let this all fall apart," adding that activists must keep lobbying state legislators to fund HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs (Boston Herald, 4/11). Former state legislator John McDonough, an associate professor at Brandeis University's Schneider Institute for Health Policy, urged conference participants to "appeal to lawmakers [for funding] but also to look beyond pleas for their own programs" and "acknowledge that programs can't be saved unless new revenue sources -- including tax increases -- are weighed" (Boston Globe, 4/11). Massachusetts has approximately 7,500 residents living with AIDS and an additional 6,000 HIV-positive residents (Boston Herald, 4/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.