Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Battle Begins

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: the federal powers-that-be have started drawing their lines in the sand for fiscal year 2012, and HIV/AIDS advocates, researchers, and providers have reason to be hopeful, although House Republicans are likely to put up a fight.

At a time when other key budgets are being slashed, many HIV/AIDS organizations are relieved to see the President’s continued commitment to The National HIV/AIDS Strategy and other investments in curbing the epidemic, particularly his efforts to shore up critical treatment programs like ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) and vital research funding. Others are disappointed that the proposed budget doesn’t go farther towards supporting HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research, although many recognize that given the current economic climate, things could have been worse. According to The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) summary of the proposed budget, “total US Government-wide spending on HIV/AIDS increases from $26 billion to approximately $28 billion in 2012.”

While the budget does not speak directly to the experiences of older adults living with HIV/AIDS, it does allocate funding to address issues of critical importance to this population, including access to affordable care, medication, and housing, and appropriations to continue the fight against stigmatization of and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. The proposed budget also wisely “prioritizes HIV/AIDS resources within high burden communities and among high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men, African Americans, and Hispanics,” helping to insure that funds reach communities where they can have a sizable and immediate impact.

At the same time, House Republicans appear to have very different ideas about the FY 2012 budget. And so the battle begins. (Check out these links to see what some national organizations – including GMHC, NAPWA, POZ, NMAC, AmFar, and The AIDS Institute – have to say about the President’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal. Check out Kaiser Health News for access to both the original proposal and a helpful summary of the highlights.)