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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Governor “Terminator” Kills AIDS Program

In a “Heartless Act” Governor Schwarzenegger Dismantles California’s Lifesaving HIV/AIDS Prevention, Testing, Housing and Treatment Services

Deadly Cuts Will Cripple HIV Testing & Prevention Efforts, Endanger Public Health and Cost California Taxpayers Infinitely More in the Future

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 28, 2009)¾AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US’ largest AIDS organization as well as the operator of California’s largest alternative HIV testing program, today condemned Governor Schwarzenegger’s gutting of California’s lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs as he approves a budget plan that includes millions of dollars worth of cuts to the state’s HIV/AIDS education, prevention, counseling & testing, housing and treatment services.

Today’s cuts to HIV/AIDS programs include: an 80% reduction in funding for Education & Prevention, a 70% cut in HIV Counseling and Testing, a 50% cut for Early Intervention (that provides primary medical care), a 100% cut in Therapeutic Monitoring Program (the program that monitors the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS drugs administered through the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program), a 20% cut in Housing and more than a 50% cut in funding for Home and Community-Based Care.

With a single stroke of his blue pencil, Governor Schwarzenegger has terminated the state’s AIDS programs and, along with it, the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The Governor’s heartless act is not only deadly, but guaranteed to cost California taxpayers millions more in the future. With HIV testing programs sidelined and the state’s ability to prevent new infections stymied, new infections in California will increase—each new infection can mean up to $600,000 dollars in lifetime health care costs. A 100% cut to the Therapeutic Monitoring Program is the definition of penny-wise and pound-foolish—with the ability to monitor the effectiveness of lifesaving AIDS drugs hampered, the state’s already cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Program will only end up spending more for drugs.”

Governor Schwarzenegger’s unilateral decision to essentially dismantle the state’s lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs will cost lives, endanger the public’s health and constitutes negligence,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of AHF’s Public Health Division. “The state’s ability to identify people living with HIV is now severely crippled—creating an enormous obstacle to the prevention of new infections and linking those who need it to treatment. Not only will the Governor’s callous funding cuts devastate those living with HIV/AIDS who rely on the services the state provides to stay alive and healthy, but today’s cuts also pose a serious threat to our shared responsibility to combat the spread of HIV in California.”

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