Senate Democrats Remove Provision for HIV, STI Prevention From Stimulus Bill
Senate Democrats during debate over a proposed economic stimulus bill removed a provision that would have allocated $400 million to CDC for HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention efforts, the AP/Boston Globe reports. President Obama on Monday said that "very modest differences" between the House and Senate versions of the legislation should not delay the passage of the $885 billion package in the Senate (AP/Boston Globe, 2/3). The House last week passed an $819 billion version of the bill, which included $335 million to CDC for HIV and STI prevention efforts. House Republicans criticized the inclusion of STI prevention funding in the stimulus bill, saying it does nothing to create jobs and regenerate the economy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/29).
Related Opinion Piece
Although "Congress is being lambasted" for including provisions that would fund HIV and STI prevention in the economic stimulus package, addressing these diseases is "not just about the work. It's about the workforce," columnist and reporter Cheryl Wetzstein writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. Wetzstein cites data from a 2007 book titled "Behavioral Interventions for Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases," which suggests that STI prevalence will increase as a result of a growing sexually active population and recent increases in poverty and inequality. She writes that STIs in the U.S. are "spreading in all directions;" however, the "nation is stingy" in allocating funds for efforts to curb these diseases. According to Wetzstein, STIs and HIV can be "deadly" for individuals, "devastating" for families and "costly" to governments. She adds that the federal government last year spent only $1 billion for STI efforts, of which two-thirds targeted HIV/AIDS initiatives. Wetzstein writes, "Does fighting [STIs] create jobs? Probably a few, but not that many." She concludes that "if Congress cares about reducing national health care costs and keeping workers healthy and productive, stuffing a little [STI] prevention money in the package might be a wise thing to do" (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 2/3).