June 21, 2013
San Francisco will have to reduce funding by $7 million in the city's $7.9 billion budget, unless Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors can locate replacement money. The cuts would affect local HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services that help low- or no-income residents and would take place throughout the next two years. Small community-based nonprofits have provided the greater share of San Francisco's HIV and AIDS care; however, throughout the past three budget years, the government has cut approximately $20 million in federal funding from these service providers, continuing a 10-year trend. In 2001, federal grants provided $34 million in funding to uninsured, low-income persons at risk for HIV/AIDS; that sum fell to $18 million in 2013.
Throughout the next five years, CDC funding will decrease by 50 percent, from $10 million to $5 million. The federal sequester caused $11 million in cuts. The Department of Public Health warned that the cuts could cause reduction or removal of free sex education and condoms, hospice care, rent subsidies, and free meals for thousands of patients. AIDS Legal Referral Panel Executive Director Bill Hirsch declared, "We've faced cuts for so many years, we're already a lean machine. There isn't anything left to be cut." San Francisco local tax dollars replaced approximately $17.5 million in lost federal funding throughout the past three years. However, for the remaining $3.1 million gap in the coming fiscal year and $3.9 million in the following year, city officials are not sure where they will find the funding.
San Francisco successfully reduced new HIV/AIDS cases from approximately 2,400 per year 20 years ago to approximately 200 in 2013, but the reduction caused the federal government to re-direct AIDS funding to areas with higher infection rates. Latino communities will be affected, as the Instituto Familiar de la Raza and AGUILAS programs would lose approximately $700,000 total throughout the next two years. Although the cuts may sound insignificant, small neighborhood-based nonprofits or centers provide the services, so even a few dollars cut can disrupt treatment. According to the HIV/AIDS Providers Network, approximately 35,000 San Francisco residents have HIV/AIDS, including one out of every three gay men. The mayor and the Board of Supervisors have until the end of June to finalize the budget for the next two years.
San Francisco Examiner
06.20.2013; Chris Roberts
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