U.S., Massachusetts Governments Need To Continue To Fund HIV/AIDS Services, Antiretroviral Drugs, Editorial Says
The U.S. and Massachusetts governments "cannot jeopardize support for AIDS funding and expect to continue the steady progress being made against the disease," a Boston Globe editorial says (Boston Globe, 3/28). Boston this year will receive $1.1 million less than last year in federal Ryan White CARE Act funding for services for low-income HIV-positive people. The funding cut -- from $14.8 million in 2004 to $13.7 million this year -- is related to a decline in the number of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the city, from 307 cases in 2002 to 263 cases in 2003. The cut represented the biggest reduction in Ryan White funding for Boston since the program began and will result in 10 HIV/AIDS-related programs being eliminated and others having to cut back services. Although HIV/AIDS diagnoses declined between 2002 and 2003, Boston health officials said that more HIV-positive people are living longer and requiring more services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/16). It would be a "cruel irony" if the reduction in the number of people in Massachusetts who died of AIDS-related causes "undermined care for patients who are living," the editorial says. "Even more crucial" is that HIV-positive people have access to antiretroviral drugs, the Globe says, adding that having to establish a waiting list for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program would be "immoral on its face." Such a waiting list could pose a "danger for the whole society" because the interruption of drug treatment regimens "contributes to the development of new, drug-resistant strains of HIV," the Globe says. About 1,000 Massachusetts residents contract HIV each year, and about 200 state residents die of AIDS-related causes annually, the editorial says. "Backsliding" in the fight against the disease is "not an option," the editorial concludes (Boston Globe, 3/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.