Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Holtgrave - To End America's AIDS Crisis, Reinvest in Prevention

To turn the tide of this epidemic, CDC's domestic HIV prevention budget should be expanded from its current level of roughly $750 million to $1.3 billion per year for the next five years.

via Huffington Post, by Dr, David Holtgrave

For the past decade, America's response to its domestic AIDS epidemic has stalled, due to declining resources and attention at all levels. Last month, HIV advocates thought the tide was finally turning when, in its first domestic action on AIDS, the Obama administration and the CDC announced a $45 million, five-year communication campaign to put HIV/AIDS back on America's radar. A key theme: Every 9½ minutes, another person in the U.S. becomes infected with HIV.

But last Thursday President Obama released a deeply disappointing 2010 budget proposal with only a small increase in domestic HIV prevention funding. The $53 million in new funds requested of Congress is less than one-tenth of what is needed to drive down HIV infection rates in the United States, and is even less than President Bush's most recent annual requests to Congress.

We learned last year that the number of Americans becoming infected with HIV is far higher than previously known -- about 56,000 per year. HIV continues to take a disproportionate toll on African American communities, and HIV infections have been increasing at an alarming pace among gay and bisexual men of all races.

If we are to reduce HIV infection rates in the U.S., we must invest significantly more resources into prevention programs. My research demonstrates that federal funding for prevention is highly effective. There is a direct correlation between federal dollars spent and national HIV infection rates. Yet, the CDC's budget for HIV prevention has declined by almost 20% in real dollars since 2002.

To turn the tide of this epidemic, CDC's domestic HIV prevention budget should be expanded from its current level of roughly $750 million to $1.3 billion per year for the next five years. This would undo the harmful effects of inflation, address the unmet needs that have continued to grow over time, and rectify our failure as a nation to invest in programs at the scale needed to dramatically alter the course of the epidemic. This is one of the smartest public health investments the U.S. can make -- over five years, it could prevent approximately 89,000 new HIV infections, save $18.5 billion in averted treatment costs, and, most importantly, save some 1,350 lives.

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