Call On U.S. Congress To Provide Full Funding For HIV / AIDS Programs
DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT ON RACIAL AND ETHNIC MINORITY COMMUNITIES REQUIRE FULL FOCUS ON PREVENTION, TREATMENT, RESEARCH, AND SERVICES
African Americans are contracting HIV / AIDs in disproportionately high and record numbers. African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older) in 2010 despite representing only 12% of the U.S. population; this represents a population rate that is 8 times that of White Americans. African Americans also accounted for half of all new AIDS diagnoses (49%) in 2011. In 2010, HIV was the 5th leading cause for Black men and the 7th for Black Women, ages 25 – 44, ranking higher than their respective counterparts in any other racial or ethnic group. Even more alarming, it was found in 2010 that African American teen and young adults, ages 13 – 24, represented more than half (57%) of the HIV / AIDS infections in that age group. In 2010, African American women accounted for 29% of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. At some point in their lifetime, an estimated 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV infection. By the end of 2010, an estimated 260,821 African Americans diagnosed with AIDS had died in the United States. The following year, in 2011, an estimated 15,958 African Americans were newly diagnosed with AIDS.
Because HIV / AIDs is taking a disproportionately high toll on African Americans, the NAACP is taking a very proactive position in support of developing effective prevention strategies as well as advocating for adequate monies for research and treatment programs. While federal funding for HIV / AIDS has increased substantially over the course of the epidemic, it represents a small fraction (less than 1%) of the overall federal budget of the United States. This growth has been driven primarily by increased spending on mandatory domestic care and treatment programs, as more people are living with HIV / AIDS in the United States.
In the budget request for the upcoming year, the Administration has requested funding for the Ryan White HIV / AIDS Program, which offers health services for people living with HIV / AIDS, be set at $2.32 billion. This amount includes $169.1 million to be allocated to the Minority HIV / AIDS Initiative (MAI). The MAI was created in 1989 as part of the Ryan White Program to address the disproportionate impact of HIV / AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. The Minority HIV / AIDs Initiative is especially important given the disproportionate, and growing, number of racial and ethnic minority Americans affected by the disease.
We must now urge Congress to support full funding for domestic HIV / AIDS programs. Funding cuts to programs which provide care and treatment, prevention, housing, and support services are not only morally wrong, but they will result in a setback in the fight against HIV / AIDS and make the goal of ending the domestic HIV epidemic in our lifetimes unreachable.