On Friday, March 1st, after weeks and weeks of deliberation, the looming threat of sequestration became a reality. As a result, non-defense discretionary programs and non-defense mandatory programs will see cuts to their federal funding. Inevitably, HIV programs will be affected by these cuts which can set back the progress that has been made over the years.
The sequester cuts will reduce the non-defense discretionary program budgets by 5 percent. What kinds of programs are those, you ask? Programs such as Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) operating under the Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). In the past, programs such as the Teen Outreach Program from Sasha Bruce Youthwork and the Se Tu Mismo (Be Yourself) Program from George Washington University in DC have received grants from this budget. These programs teach youth how to make responsible choices and to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies.
Non-defense mandatory programs will bear budget cuts of 5.1 percent. These cuts will directly affect the Personal Responsibility Education Program. This is another vital pregnancy prevention program funded by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) Family and Youth Service Bureau (FYSB) through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The DC Personal Responsibility Education Program educates adolescents on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and at least three adulthood preparation subjects within the District of Columbia.
According to the Black AIDS Institute, African-Americans will be deeply affected by the cuts. The cuts will deprive at least 3,241 HIV-Positive African-Americans of life saving HIV treatment. It will prevent more African-Americans from learning their status and thus delaying entry into care. The Institute projects that more than 350 African-Americans will be needlessly infected. Click here to read more details about the affect of Black America.
Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director for the AIDS Institute in Northwest, issued the following reflection about the sequestration cuts. "I never thought we would see this day when the President and the Congress are so far apart and cannot come to agreement on critically important issues, such as federal government spending. We hope it will not last long and the President and the Congress will agree on a sensible balanced approach to our government’s fiscal matters. Everyone agrees that sequestration is “stupid” because it cuts almost all government programs across the board. That includes many HIV programs, including HIV prevention at the CDC, AIDS research at the NIH and the Ryan White Care and Treatment at HRSA-all would be cut by 5%." He explains the danger of the cuts to people who rely on ADAP. "What is perhaps most scary is that ADAP would be cut by 5% as well and could result in states having to remove patients from their medications. That is extremely serious and is a perfect example of why sequestration is “stupid”. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to people building up resistance to certain ARV treatments and lead to further illnesses. Obviously we hope this crisis will be resolved very soon.”
Click here to read the Office of Management and Budget's report.