Democrats Wrong To Criticize New HHS Review of HIV Prevention Programs, Rep. Weldon Says
Democratic congressional leaders are wrong to criticize a new HHS policy that requires a new level of review for HIV prevention programs, Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) writes in a USA Today letter to the editor. Weldon, who is a physician who has treated HIV/AIDS patients, writes that a USA Today article from Sept. 15 describing a letter about the policy that some Democrats sent to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "fails to mention a key fact about the policies and programs aimed at preventing HIV and AIDS: They are abject failures" (Weldon, USA Today, 9/23). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in a Sept. 11 letter asked Thompson to reconsider new rules imposed on HIV/AIDS prevention programs that receive federal funding. HHS in July as part of the CDC's new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy announced that state or local health agencies must approve all HIV/AIDS prevention material distributed by groups that receive funding from the CDC. However, the three lawmakers said that the groups already use review panels to ensure that they distribute accurate and appropriate information (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/12). Weldon says that he is "very concerned when misinformed senior legislators claim that the 'process that's now in place has worked well for over a decade." According to Weldon, recent news reports have said that San Francisco experienced a 100% increase in the rate of new HIV infections, despite the $20 million the city spent on HIV prevention in 2001. Weldon also cites a 2002 CDC and San Francisco Department of Public Health report that estimated that there would be 700 to 800 new HIV infections in the city that year, numbers Weldon says "rival those from the early years of the AIDS epidemic." With 40,000 new HIV infections occurring in the United States each year, Weldon concludes that Thompson is "only right to demand better results from the billions of dollars spent" (USA Today, 9/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.