On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee released recommendations for Health and Human Services funding for 2024. The proposed budget cuts over $500 million from Centers for Disease Control and Health Resource and Services Association HIV/AIDS programs, including the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative and the Ryan White and Minority AIDS Initiative Programs.
The vote was had on party lines, with the Republican majority voting for the new appropriations.
Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative is a 10-year plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. The HRSA provides HIV treatment and supportive services while the CDC focuses on HIV prevention, including PrEP and testing.
This proposal would remove all $220M from the CDC Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative and $220M from the $322M in the HRSA Ending the HIV Epidemic. An additional $74M would be removed from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS and an additional $32M from the Minority AIDS Initiative. These programs provide low to no cost HIV prevention and HIV treatment, primarily for low income and minority populations.
Carl Baloney Jr., AIDS United’s vice president for policy and public affairs, criticized the proposal in a press release, saying, “…This proposal is an attack on people living with and vulnerable to HIV. These cuts would ruin lives. People living with HIV would lose health care. Without proper treatment and care, people living with HIV would not be able to reach and maintain an undetectable viral load — an important indicator of health, and also a critical tool to prevent the spread of HIV as someone with an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus along to anyone.”
South Florida is one of the highest areas of HIV incidence in the country, with almost 60,000 people living with HIV across Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Loss of HIV funding would have lasting negative effects on the local community, reducing access to treatment and prevention and propagating the spread of HIV.
While the hope is that these proposed appropriations will never make it past the Senate, which is developing its own, bipartisan appropriations bill that would not involve the deep cuts. However, House republicans have once again shown their character.
“This bill represents a clear first step towards returning to fiscal responsibility while ensuring that funding for critical and high priority functions are maintained,” subcommittee chairman Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said about the bill.
The approved appropriations also include steep cuts to labor and education programs, as well as other public health issues, from abortion and family planning to vaccine research. The committee uses the bill like puppet theater, knowing it is meaningless but using it for clout and attention from their supporters.