AIDS Could Gain ‘Upper Hand’ if Massachusetts Continues To Cut AIDS Funding, Boston Globe Editorial Says
The Massachusetts Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney (R) should not continue to cut funding for the Department of Health's AIDS Bureau to "wipe out" the state's $3 billion deficit, as no other budget issue carries such "life-and-death implications," a Boston Globe editorial says. Current spending on HIV/AIDS is $35.8 million, down from $51 million in 2001. If the state continues to cut HIV/AIDS funding for prevention and treatment, the number of new infections and deaths from the disease are likely to increase, according to the editorial. Reductions in the AIDS budget, including $3 million Romney "stripped" from his budget in January, will result in 10,000 fewer HIV tests in the state, the editorial says. AIDS advocates worry that the budget cuts could "force a tightening" of Medicaid support for low-income HIV-positive individuals, according to the Globe. People living with HIV/AIDS who make up to $35,920 annually are currently eligible for free treatment, a "humane policy with a clear public health benefit," the editorial says. However, that policy could be changed or eliminated with budget reductions, according to the Globe. Interruption in treatment regimens could result in drug-resistant HIV strains becoming more common, the editorial notes. In addition, the budget reductions might also limit the bureau's ability to provide HIV/AIDS education to "hard-to-reach" minority populations, who represent an increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases, the editorial says. Romney and the Legislature will have to make "difficult" decisions due to the deficit; however, with continued cuts to the HIV/AIDS funding, the disease could gain the "upper hand" in Massachusetts, the Globe concludes (Boston Globe, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.