President Bush’s FY 2005 Budget Expected To Include $38M in Additional Funds To Fight AIDS DomesticallyHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Friday announced that President Bush's fiscal year 2005 budget proposal will contain $38 million in additional funds to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States and help HIV-positive people obtain medication for treatment, the Washington Post reports. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, a federal program that helps states pay for antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive people who cannot afford them, would receive $35 million, while $3 million would go to the HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities Fund, according to the Post (Goldstein, Washington Post, 1/17). The budget request, which is expected to be released early next month, will include a total of $784 million for ADAP programs, allowing the program to serve 100,000 people a month in FY 2005, up from 93,800 a month in FY 2004, according to an HHS release (HHS release, 1/16). However, state and federal ADAP officials estimate that the program will need an additional $215 million in funding for FY 2004 to cover the cost of treating current and new patients. Congress has proposed a $35 million increase for 2004. At that funding level, 13 states have closed enrollment to new patients, leaving more than 700 patients on waiting lists for drugs. The number could grow to 7,000 this year if no additional funding is secured, according to the ADAP Working Group, which helps advocate for more ADAP funding (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/13). Although administration officials announced the increases as "good news," the 4.7% increase in ADAP funding would be the smallest annual expansion of the program since Bush took office, the Post reports. However, one administration official said that the increases for the two programs would be one of the largest among other social programs, according to the Post.
International vs. Domestic
Thompson said that the $3 million dollar expansion of the HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities Fund is part of the administration's effort to improve the health of several minority groups. The fund, which was created in 1999, has contained $50 million every year since then (Washington Post, 1/17). "Minority communities are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic," Thompson said, adding, "We must be as flexible as possible in our treatment, research and prevention of HIV/AIDS to ensure that we are directing our energy and resources to the communities that are most seriously impacted by the disease." Under Bush, overall federal spending on HIV/AIDS has increased 28%, from $14.2 billion in FY 2001 to $18.2 billion in FY 2004, according to the release. In his State of the Union address last year, Bush announced the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- also known as the Global AIDS Initiative -- which is a five-year, $15 billion program focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and care in some African and Caribbean nations (HHS release, 1/16). According to the Post, the proposed increase in funds "is an effort to counteract criticism" from AIDS advocates who complained that Bush did not devote equal attention to the disease domestically when he announced his Global AIDS Initiative. Ronald Johnson, board chair for AIDS Action, an umbrella organization for several local AIDS groups, commended the Global AIDS Initiative but said, "We also have to recognize that the domestic agenda should not be shortchanged." He added that the proposed increases are "so well below what is needed." Administration officials on Friday would not say whether Bush plans to highlight the AIDS funding in his State of the Union address on Tuesday or whether it will only appear in the budget request, according to the Post (Washington Post, 1/17).