AIDS United’s Statement on President Trump’s Budget for FY 2018

AIDS United is shocked by President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request released today. It threatens to roll back the progress in the fight against the domestic HIV epidemic. Now more than ever we must maintain and strengthen our progress towards our national goals and priorities of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

The deep proposed cuts to domestic HIV and STD prevention cannot be reconciled with the goal of preventing new HIV transmissions and the rising rates of STDs. The proposed $59 million cut to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, coupled with a fundamental restructuring of the Medicaid program capping federal spending for the first time to the tune of a $610 million funding reduction over the next decade, diminishes every community’s ability to deliver quality health care to people living with HIV by eliminating AIDS Education and Training Centers and Special Programs of National Significance (SPNS).

“AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs) are essential to the HIV care continuum and the success of the national goals and priorities to end the epidemic,” said AIDS United President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. “AETCs assure that providers know and apply the best standards of care for people living with and at risk for HIV.”

Further, AIDS United is particularly concerned that the President’s budget eliminates SPNS and reduces funding for Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) programs. SPNS and MAI programs address the HIV epidemic by developing targeted, innovative approaches to reach chronically underserved people.

“Investment in targeted approaches are effective and save money, at a time when 1 in 2 and 1 in 4 Black and Latino gay and bisexual men respectively are at substantial risk for HIV infection in their lifetime. How can we reduce funding to programs that address these disparities? The President’s budget isn’t just a set of numbers, it’s a disturbing statement of values. Every voter must send their own message to Congress to express that they value the health of our people,” said Milan.

AIDS United urges Congress to reject the draconian cuts proposed in the President’s budget request and support funding for Medicaid, HIV programs, and STD prevention. Congress cannot idly allow the return of reduced, sequester discretionary spending caps for fiscal year 2018. These restrictive caps must be raised so that non-defense discretionary programs, which include HIV programs, can be adequately funded in fiscal year 2018. A bipartisan budget agreement that provides relief from the sequester spending caps while preserving parity between defense and non-defense discretionary programs must be achieved for 2018.

“The president’s budget would turn back the clock for years and years on progress to end the HIV epidemic. We call on Congress to keep the country moving forward,” said Milan.

AIDS United: A Harm Reduction Compendium

 

As a result of the opioid epidemic, the concept of harm reduction has come into increasing prominence in the United States. Harm reduction is a strategy designed to reduce harmful consequences of drugs, sex, or other risky behavior by focusing specifically on reducing the harms associated with that behavior rather than focusing on the risk or illegality of the behavior. AIDS United has long advocated for harm reduction policies such as legalizing and funding syringe services programs (SSPs) and allowing or even requiring that condoms be available in prison. With the 11th National Harm Reduction Conference hosted by the Harm Reduction Coalition in sunny San Diego just around the corner, this seems like a good time to provide an overview of some of AIDS United’s current harm reduction activities.

Harm Reduction Conference

AIDS United is participating heavily in this year’s National Harm Reduction Conference as a sponsor, as presenters and exhibitors, and as participants. AIDS United staff are leading several pre-conference workshops designed to help syringe service organizations and harm reduction organizers expand their capacity and increase their sustainability in an era of federal funding for syringe services. AIDS United is participating in a host of workshops throughout the conference – including a funders’ roundtable and a session diving into the federal implementation of syringe services funding – as well as tabling in the exhibitor hall for the duration. We will also be offering on-site technical assistance for any programs looking to apply for – or assist their health department in applying for – federal funding for SSPs.

Federal Funding Implementation

AIDS United has continued to monitor the implementation of federal funding for SSPs, and has produced a variety of resources for advocates and CBOs over the last year. In June, we released a webinar explaining the various implementation guidance documents released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as well as the role Community Based Organizations (CBOs) could play in guiding their jurisdiction’s “Determination of Need” process. A follow-up webinar, examining what we’ve learned over the first year of federal funding availability, can be expected in the new calendar year. This fall, we released a series of fact sheets, including an SSP-101 and fact sheets aimed at CBOs and SSP advocates. We continue to offer capacity building and technical assistance for programs interested in expanding services using federal funds through our CDC-funded capacity building program Getting to Zero and our policy department. Finally, we continue to work with our partners within the Coalition for Syringe Access to build upon the victories won in late 2015.

Funding

The Syringe Access Fund (SAF) is a funding collaborative of Elton John AIDS Foundation, Irene Diamond Fund, Levi Strauss Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and AIDS United. It is the largest private funding collaborative for syringe access in the United States. The Fund is currently in the first year of its 9th funding round, with grantees across the country continuing to offer lifesaving services and critical policy advocacy on behalf of people who inject drugs. The Round 10 RFA, covering 2018-2019, is expected to be released in Fall, 2017. To date, the Syringe Access Fund has provided more than $17 million in grants to syringe services programs.

Policy Advocacy

AIDS United continues to support harm reduction policy responses to substance use, and in July became the first national HIV advocacy organization to publicly endorse Supervised Injection Facilities as an HIV/HCV prevention strategy for people who inject drugs, alongside expanded access to Medication Assisted Treatment, layperson-naloxone distribution, Good Samaritan protections, syringe services programs, and non-abstinence based housing first permanent supportive housing programs. This endorsement, supported by our Public Policy Committee, firmly centers harm reduction approaches to HIV prevention for people who inject drugs. With the opioid epidemic continuing to rage, AIDS United expects to only deepen our commitment to advancing harm reduction responses to this public health crisis.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department – Friday, October 28, 2016
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