Hundreds of Advocates Protest Cuts to HIV/AIDS Funding in Massachusetts State Budget
About 300 people on Wednesday attended a rally at the Massachusetts state capitol protesting HIV/AIDS funding cuts in the state's 2005 budget, the Boston Herald reports. Organizers said that about $19.1 million in funding for HIV/AIDS programs has been cut from the state budget since 2001, and they are pushing the state Legislature to provide $36 million for HIV/AIDS programs in its 2005 budget. The $36 million would represent a $4 million increase over 2004 funding levels and would go toward prevention and treatment programs, according to the Herald. Advocates said that cutting funding now will lead to much higher critical care costs in the future, according to the Herald (Ballou, Boston Herald, 3/4). The number of newly reported HIV cases among Massachusetts young adults and people over age 50 has increased significantly over the past four years, according to state Department of Public Health figures released in June 2003. The number of new HIV cases among people ages 13 to 24 increased by more than 40% over a four-year period. In addition, the number of new cases among people over age 50 accounted for 12% of all new cases reported in 2002, compared with 9.2% in 1999, an increase of 31% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/25/03). However, state Department of Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson said that the state has made some progress in the fight against the disease, including a near-elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission (Boston Herald, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.