Obama Budgets for More Domestic AIDS Programs

Obama Commerce SecretaryBarack Obama‘s fiscal budget promises to reduce the deficit, increase spending for health care and education, help you wash the dog and help put Jennifer Aniston back in prime time. Add to that list an increase in domestic AIDS spending, according to a summary of his $3.6 trillion budget released this weekend. The details, like everything about the Obama plan for financial rescue, is vague on the details, which the administration says will come in April.

Yes, we know, we sound cynical. This is because we made the mistake of starting our day off with Marketwatch and it looks like we’re in for another Black Monday (we need to invent a new, darker color– Black Hole Chartreuse, perhaps?) and are dubious about any budget promises at all in the current economic death spiral. Still, good reason to cheer. Domestic AIDS spending has been flat the past year.

The Washington Blade reports that AIDS groups are not too surprisingly pleased with Obama’s efforts over the previous guy in the White House:

“Officials with AIDS advocacy groups said they were optimistic about the president’s plans for domestic AIDS programs, especially coming on the heels of the Bush administration, which the groups have criticized for not devoting enough attention HIV prevention efforts in the United States.

“President Obama is following through in his commitment to fighting domestic HIV/AIDS by singling out in his FY10 budget blueprint increased resources” for domestic AIDS programs, said Michael Ruppal, interim executive director of the AIDS Institute, a national AIDS advocacy group…

The release of Obama’s summary for the fiscal year 2010 budget came less than a week after Congress agreed to a compromise fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill that included a modest increase in funding for the Ryan White AIDS treatment program while providing no increase in funding for HIV prevention efforts.

Fiscal year 2009 began Oct. 1, 2008. As it has in past years, Congress was unable to complete work on the fiscal year 2009 budget in time for the start of the fiscal year. Democratic and Republican leaders passed a continuing resolution to fund the government at the same level as in fiscal year 2008 while completing work on the fiscal 2009 appropriations measure.

“The FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill is a mixed bag for domestic HIV/AIDS,” said Carl Schmid, the AIDS Institute’s director of federal affairs. “While we are pleased to see some increased funding for care and treatment in the Ryan White HIV Program, we are very disappointed that Congress is flat funding domestic HIV prevention at the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” Schmid said.

“This on top of a $3.5 million cut to prevention programs last year and after a report by the CDC that new HIV infections stand at 56,300 per year, or 40 percent higher than previous estimates.”

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