Including HIV, STI Prevention Funding in Stimulus Will Contribute ‘Directly, Quickly’ to Economy, Opinion Piece Says
Those who have criticized the inclusion of $400 million for HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention funding in the economic stimulus plan need to be reminded that "[d]isease prevention is a job," Joseph Interrante, CEO of Nashville CARES, writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. He writes that the funding -- a "majority" of which would support health departments on the state and local level -- would "contribute directly and quickly to job creation." According to Interrante, 46 states face budget deficits, and "26 have already made or are planning cuts to their public health programs." He continues that the HIV/STI division at the Tennessee Department of Health is dealing with a hiring freeze "that has left it overburdened by vacancies and a handful of overworked staff." According to Interrante, such "cuts could hardly come at a worse time" as recent CDC data show the state ranks fifth in reported syphilis cases, eighth in chlamydia cases, 10th in gonorrhea cases, 22nd in tuberculosis cases and 19th in HIV/AIDS cases. "All of these cost our communities millions of dollars in health-care expenses and lost worker productivity," Interrante writes. He concludes, "Reinvestment in the prevention of HIV, [STIs], viral hepatitis and TB -- after six years of steady decreases in funding that have left our public health systems as 'potholed' as any highway -- will (re)create thousands of jobs, modernize and strengthen our public health infrastructure, and improve access to health care in ways that will reduce absenteeism and raise productivity at other jobs in our community" (Interrante, Tennessean, 2/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.