AIDS Advocates in Austin, Texas, Rally Against Scheduled Budget Cuts
More than 100 AIDS advocates in Austin, Texas, on Saturday rallied against scheduled budget cuts that will force several groups to reduce services and others to close, the Austin American-Statesman reports (Stanley, Austin American-Statesman, 10/20). Several HIV/AIDS agencies in Texas will lose much or all of their state funding for prevention programs next year due to a new funding allocation system. Texas Health Department officials said that state funds for HIV prevention services will be allocated according to area HIV/AIDS rates and population groups that are most affected by the disease. Several central Texas agencies, including Community Action, ALLGO Informe-VIDA, the Williamson County health district and United Way of the Greater Fort Hood Area, will receive no state funding for HIV prevention programs next year. Other agencies, including CARE of Travis County and AIDS Services of Austin, have partnered with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, which did receive state prevention funding (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/16). Advocates at the Rally for Our Lives, which preceded Sunday's 15th annual AIDS Walk Austin, said that the reallocation scheme will hurt some successful existing programs and called on legislators to increase the state's share of HIV/AIDS prevention spending, which they noted has not risen in 10 years. Texas currently spends $1 million on HIV/AIDS prevention, with the federal government contributing an additional $9 million in matching funds. Advocates also requested that the Legislature allocate an additional $34 million to help low-income residents with HIV cover the cost of treatment. State Sen. Genzalo Barrientos (D) promised to present the advocates' concerns before the Legislature, saying, "This is unacceptable. This is cruel. It is imperative that services be available" (Austin American-Statesman, 10/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.