With debt ceiling talks devolving into a monumental Congressional pissing contest, our nation’s poorest citizens have found their most needed social programs on the chopping block just so the rich don’t have to pay higher taxes. Legislators have proposed a plan to horrifically slash the budget for all HIV/AIDS-related services across the board. This includes cuts to the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (which ensures that I get the medicine I need to survive), cuts to housing support, key research at the National Institute of Health, and the ever important prevention programs that help keep new cases at bay.
The Bilerico Project recently put out an action alert urging Americans to ask their representatives to vote against welfare cuts that would harm our most underprivileged populations. But why should you bother?
Aside from the usual bleeding-heart liberal reasons about supporting financially disadvantaged Americans, it’s just not fiscally smart to cut these programs. It costs exponentially less to provide preventative care rather than to treat someone already ravaged by HIV. With infections on the rise, the more HIV-positive people living US the more money we’ll need to save lives and halt the lethal epidemic that has killed Americans for the past 30 years. Time and time again studies show that prevention education helps blunt the spread of HIV, not to mention that poz folks on meds are much less likely to spread the virus. Cuts to preventative programs and basic medical care would place more people at risk for seroconversion.
So how can you help? Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find your representative here. When you call, deliver this message:
“I am calling to ask my Senator / Representative to prevent harmful cuts and caps to health care, research, and low-income programs, including those that impact persons living with HIV/AIDS, such as the Ryan White Program, Medicaid, Medicare, housing, and prevention programs! We need a fair and balanced approach now!”
Balancing the budget on the backs of vulnerable Americans, including those living with HIV, is wrong, will potentially cost lives, and will cut jobs in the health care and human needs sectors.
Early and reliable access to HIV care, treatment, and support helps people with HIV live healthy and productive lives and helps keep HIV-care cost effective. Investing in HIV prevention today translates into greater health and less spending in the future.
It’s vitally important that poor Americans living with HIV/AIDS aren’t left out in the cold. Plus, um, I’d really like to live, so can we keep funding for my pills? Please?