From the very early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a priority in the HIV/AIDS community has been to fight for funds for care, treatment and a cure. Any attempt to lessen those funds have always been met with stiff resistance and intense lobbying. Since the economic collapse and the massive debt being faced by state governments, slowly but surely we are seeing subtle but significant cuts in our funding. The cutbacks are even more dramatic since they are taking place against the backdrop of an increased number of cases of HIV/AIDS.
Retroviral therapies have made it possible for millions to now have a productive life with HIV/AIDS. That quality of life depends on the ability to have access to needed but expensive medications. Programs like the AIDS Drug Treatment Program (ADAP) have been the cornerstone of ensuring that every person, no matter of their economic standing, would have access to those promising and proven treatments.
That is no longer the case.
All over the country ADAP programs are being cut back and in some states the programs have been brought to a halt. In Florida the entire program almost disappeared before last-ditched efforts by a strong coalition of advocates stepped in and reached agreement with the authorities. Even in New York, progressive Governor Andrew Cuomo make slashing cuts to the HIV/AIDS programs as he frantically attempts to deal with the state's massive debt. All state funded HIV/AIDS programs receiving state money will be cut 10% in the across the board cuts made by Cuomo. In the program for housing for homeless people with HIV/AIDS in New York State, the governor's proposal falls short by $2.8 million.
These are states where the HIV/AIDS community has no major NGO's to lobby and fight on behalf of their clients. Can you imagine what it is like in states like Mississippi, West Virginia or Idaho? Recently a number of advocate organizations in Washington, DC merged into one powerful AIDS United. It is to led by talented Mark Ishaug and brings with it a new hope for a more forceful advocacy. God know it is ?desperately needed now.