Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Congress approves SF to get $5 million in HIV/AIDS funds

Congress has passed a bill that includes prevention of drastic cuts to federal HIV/AIDS care and treatment funding for San Francisco and some other nearby areas. The infusion of $5 million to SF AIDS programs comes as advocates raise alarms about a loss in state funding.

pelosiThe bill also contains a lift of the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange initiatives, which have been shown to reduce new HIV infections without increasing the use of illegal drugs.

The fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed the House today by a vote of 221 to 202.

The bill will restore more than $5 million for HIV/AIDS funding in the Bay Area.

In a statement, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco and pictured, above), said, “The Ryan White Act has always focused on establishing and maintaining effective systems of health care. This means avoiding drastic cuts that destabilize existing resources people living with HIV/AIDS rely upon for care and medications.”

Pelosi stated that many are “disappointed” that Republican senators blocked at attempt during the recent Ryan White reauthorization “to permanently correct flaws in the Bush Administration’s implementation of the 2006 reauthorization, which caused severe cuts for San Francisco and several other jurisdictions.”

That’s why the issue had to be addressed through the appropriations process again, as it has the past two years, she said in the statement.

“AIDS continues to be the City’s third leading cause of premature death for men, and more San Franciscans are currently living with HIV/AIDS than at any point in the history of the epidemic,” stated Pelosi, who’s long fought to maintain funding for people with HIV/AIDS in the city. “… Restoration of these funds was critical for our system of care.”

Due to what is known as a “hold harmless” clause in the Ryan White bill Pelosi annually seeks to make sure the city is not hit with drastic cuts in AIDS funding.

Bill Blum, San Francisco’s interim director for HIV health services, said that if San Francisco gets the additional money, the city would be able to preserve its current level of Ryan White Part A and B-funded services.

“That would really be wonderful,” said Blum. “I think we were anticipating there would be a hit.”

Part A funding goes directly to local health jurisdictions or eligible metropolitan areas. Part B money goes to the state, which then distributes the funding. The current total for San Francisco is about $28 million.

Blum said that the city’s in the process of applying for next year’s funding.

Other areas helped by the bill include Marin and San Mateo counties.

Needle exchange

In terms of the lifting of the needle exchange ban, Pelosi called it “sound science.”

“The language lifting the ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange appropriately allows local public health and law enforcement officials to determine where exchanges should operate in their communities,” Pelosi said in a statement

Lifting the ban still needs Senate approval, but it has been negotiated in House-Senate conference. Senate approval is considered likely.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s HIV prevention director, previously told the Bay Area Reporter, “If the federal ban is lifted it gives jurisdictions much more flexibility in terms of how to spend federal dollars.”

However, he said, “Ultimately, the best thing would be for the federal government to really invest” in syringe exchange intervention “which we know is effective and saves lives.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 10, 2009 @ 2:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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