World AIDS Day Observed, Activists Decry Budget Cuts
A new study on HIV anti-retroviral regimens was released Dec. 1 and events were held to mark World AIDS Day. Meanwhile, advocates in New York and California expressed concern about budget cuts and tight funding for AIDS programs.
New York Daily News: "World AIDS Day was marked in the city Tuesday with advocacy, arrests and sobering statistics. Officials said at least 104,234 New Yorkers are living with HIV or AIDS -- and those who have lost their lives were recognized at emotional ceremonies. Outside Gracie Mansion, 10 protesters were arrested for trying to chain themselves to a fence while Mayor Bloomberg was hosting a reception inside. Housing Works, which organized the demonstration, said Bloomberg has slashed funding for AIDS programs and eliminated an office dedicated to AIDS policy at City Hall" (Lebetkin and Nelson, 12/1).
Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel: "In the face of deep public and private funding cuts, Merle Smith, executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, had to lay off nearly half of the 25-year-old organization's staff and close a testing and needle exchange site. ... In September, the project closed its Drop-In Center, ceasing all HIV testing and clean needle swaps for intravenous drug users. With seven fewer workers, the current staff of 10 can't visit homeless residents, troubled youth or migrant workers to distribute information about how to avoid infection. ... The AIDS Project has lost about half of its $1.2 million budget through combined cuts from federal, state and local government sources, as well as private grant-makers" (Brown, 12/2).
Science Daily reports that a study in the New England Journal of Medicine notes "that viral failure, the point at which medication can no longer suppress the HIV infection, was twice as likely and happened sooner among patients initiating anti-retroviral therapy with high viral loads who were given Epzicom when compared to similar patients treated with Truvada." The researchers, however, continued to follow the patients to assess their medical progress. Researcher Dr. Eric Daar said: "'As we mark Worlds AIDS Day this year, we can celebrate the fact that there are many effective therapeutic options for the treatment of HIV-infected individuals and much ongoing research, like this study, to further refine and optimize the management of this disease" (12/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.