Friday, November 8, 2013

Survey Reveals Sequestration Impacting AIDS Care while Number of Patients Increase

Carl Schmid
Deputy Executive Director
The AIDS Institute

A survey conducted by The AIDS Institute found that HIV care in the United States is suffering as a result of sequestration and cuts in the Budget Control Act, while the number of AIDS patients is increasing. One hundred and thirty-one AIDS organizations in 29 states and the District of Columbia took the survey on the impact of these cuts, and the findings were troublesome.

In the last year, domestic HIV/AIDS programs have been cut nearly $380 million. As a result of these and other cuts 85% of the organizations surveyed experienced funding reductions. At the same time, 79% experienced an increase in clients.

As a result of cuts, 52% of survey respondents who detailed the impact of their lost funding indicated they have had to reduce staff, while 38% had to cut prevention education programs, and 22% cut back on HIV testing.  At least one organization had to close down completely.

Staff reductions impacted case management, administrative and clinical staff the hardest, and researchers, educators, and peer advocates were also cut from organizations. The majority of responding organizations had to lay off three to five staff members due to these cuts.

Photo of African-American man holding up a hand-made sign that reads, "Budget Cuts = Deaths HIV Poverty Total Devastation"
According to survey respondents, the funding reductions have resulted in cuts to patient services, including longer times between appointments and increased wait times at the clinic.  Some have even stopped seeing certain patients.

During the same period , the number of clients was increasing. The average increase in clients since January 1, 2012 was 18% according to surveyed organizations, compared to the average reported reduction in funding of 17%.

This survey demonstrates that the severe cuts enacted by the Budget Control Act are having real, negative consequences on HIV/AIDS organizations and their patients across the nation.  These budget cuts, coupled with an increasing number of HIV patients, have impacted their ability to provide timely, quality care and prevent future HIV infections.  If these cuts continue, they will certainly lead to increased infections, more deaths, and higher healthcare costs.

At a time when we know how to reduce an infectious disease such as HIV through prevention and treatment, and we have a National HIV/AIDS Strategy grounded in science, now is not the time to reverse the substantial progress that has been made.

There are nearly 50,000 new infections each year in the U.S. and only one third of the nearly 1.2 million people with HIV in the US have been prescribed antiretroviral treatment.

We have a long way to go before we can realize the dream of an AIDS-free generation.  We urge the Congress and the President to reverse the cuts caused by sequestration and adequately fund critical public health programs, including those that prevent HIV and provide for care and treatment for people living with HIV.

Negotiations going on right now in the Congress on the budget will directly impact if these cuts continue in the future.  The AIDS Institute hopes that these survey results, which have been forwarded to all members of congress, will help convince budget conferees that these cuts to domestic HIV programs must end.

The full survey results can be found at:

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