San Francisco AIDS Foundation Assails Governor's Plan to Severely Cut HIV Services

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is adamantly opposed to the draconian cuts to health and human service programs proposed today by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that would risk the lives of thousands of Californians.

The governor’s tentative plan to remove all general fund support to the state Office of AIDS would jeopardize more than $150 million in federal matching funds that the state receives through grants from the Ryan White Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, 35,000 California residents would lose access to their HIV medications because the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) would cease to exist.

“This is the worst possible time to take support away from the most vulnerable Californians,” said Judith Auerbach, Ph.D., vice president for Science and Public Policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Balancing the budget on the backs of those at greatest risk threatens to reverse all progress made against the HIV/AIDS epidemic over the past two decades.”

The Schwarzenegger administration’s plan to eliminate more than $160 million in HIV services is part of more than $5.5 billion in tentative new cuts to health and human services. In addition to gutting ADAP, the proposed budget cuts would eliminate services such as HIV counseling and testing, early intervention programs, and home and community-based care programs.

“San Francisco will bear a disproportionate share of the burden of losing these life-sustaining services that have prevented HIV infection rates from rising over the past 10 years,” said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the Foundation. “These cuts will force untold numbers of people suffering from HIV/AIDS to turn in vain to our local public health care system, which is already in crisis.”

If the governor includes these cuts in his formal budget proposal due to be released May 26, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation urges the state Legislature to reject the revised budget plan or risk far greater health costs in the future.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides leadership to prevent new HIV infections. Linking community experience with science, the Foundation develops ground-breaking prevention programs and bold policy initiatives to promote health and create sustainable progress against HIV. Established in 1982, the Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.

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