U.S. senator Tom Coburn, a conservative Oklahoma Republican who opposes comprehensive sex education and questions the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, has made an unexpected move that could benefit thousands of HIV-positive people nationwide.
Noting that the current Ryan White Act funding formulas allocating money to areas of the country based on their number of AIDS cases do not take into account regions of the country where new HIV infections'but not necessarily AIDS cases'are rapidly rising, Coburn announced he favors a restructuring of the formulas. 'AIDS cases comprise only a fraction of those living with HIV,' he told a Senate subcommittee.
Instead, Coburn proposes to retool the formulas to focus on the number of HIV-positive people living in a given region, with most of the federal Ryan White dollars going to areas with high HIV caseloads. He hopes to change the funding regulations during Congress's reauthorization of the law later this year.