Connecticut HIV/AIDS Advocates Protest Proposed Cut in State HIV/AIDS Funding
The Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition on Friday held a press conference to protest a proposed $2.7 million cut to state programs that provide HIV/AIDS services, the New Haven Register reports. Gov. M. Jodi Rell's (R) budget proposal for fiscal years 2009-2011 would allocate $4.95 million annually over the next two years to HIV/AIDS services, a 40% decrease from FY 2008-2009 funding levels. Jeffrey Beckham, spokesperson for the state Office of Policy and Management, said the proposed cuts would reverse an additional $2.51 million in FY 2007-2008 and $3.09 million in FY 2008-2009 in state HIV/AIDS funding following a $3.3 million reduction in federal Ryan White CARE Act funding.
Beckham said, "We're more or less at a constant base amount for this AIDS services account for the last several years," adding the proposal brings HIV/AIDS funding back to traditional levels. Leif Mitchell, co-chair of CARC's AIDS Legislative Initiative and Funding Effort, said that a 40% reduction in funding is "absolutely unacceptable," adding that HIV advocates in the state had said they were "willing to suffer a 10% cut." Christopher Cole, executive director of AIDS Project New Haven, said the agency could lose about 6% of its budget, or $66,000, that will affect transportation, mental health and substance abuse programs for HIV-positive people.
According to CARC, about 10,860 people are living with AIDS in the state. In addition, there are more AIDS cases among injection drug users in Connecticut than in any other state, the Register reports (Stannard, New Haven Register, 2/21).