by Seth Hemmelgarn
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved backfilling $3 million in HIV funding Tuesday, July 16 as it passed the city's two-year budget for 2013-15.
Mayor Ed Lee had already appropriated $4 million to fill in a funding gap for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The total two-year spending plan is nearly $16 billion.
There had been little question that the board would provide the money, which is needed to backfill federal cuts stemming from reductions in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding, and cuts related to the federal sequestration.
In a recent email he sent after the backfill passed a board committee, gay Supervisor Scott Wiener said, "I'm thrilled that we were able to get this done for the community and to avoid devastating cuts to our innovative and effective HIV care and prevention programs."
The mayor had already budgeted a full $8 million in HIV/AIDS funding for 2014-15.
At the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, cuts would have resulted in reductions to substance use and mental health counseling services, assistance for clients to access HIV care, and prevention programs for Latinos at risk for HIV.
"Once again the mayor and the supervisors have taken leadership action despite considerable challenges at the federal level to avert devastating cuts to services that save lives and improve health for thousands of people in our community," said Neil Giuliano, CEO of the AIDS foundation, in a statement after the backfill proposal passed the committee. "We have been making tremendous progress in recent years in our fight against HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, and by restoring the cuts our city leaders have demonstrated their extraordinary leadership and longstanding commitment to ensure that we continue our forward momentum and move closer to ending the transmission of HIV in San Francisco once and for all."
According to the AIDS foundation, there are about 16,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the city. Only half of newly diagnosed people here achieve viral suppression within a year of diagnosis.
The board's final vote on the budget is expected next week, after which it will go to Lee for his signature.
In other HIV/AIDS news, the Obama administration this week announced the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, which among other things is designed to promote expansion of successful HIV testing and service delivery models.
President Barack Obama signed the executive order July 15.
In one upcoming project related to the initiative, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will invest $300,000 in a yearlong technical assistance initiative as part of the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. The project is meant to build grantee capacity to integrate health care planning and care outcome measures into HIV housing programs.