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GOP Proposes to Cut $1.5 Billion for HIV/AIDS

GOP Proposes to Cut $1.5 Billion for HIV/AIDS

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Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by Majority Speaker John Boehner (pictured) are looking to make several cuts to domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs.

In response to President Barack Obama's plans to cut spending across the board on several programs, the House Republicans proposed cutting $1.6 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health. Michael Ruppal, executive director of the AIDS Institute, said in a statement Monday that the country spends only 3% of the federally funded HIV/AIDS budget on prevention. Ruppal said making such cuts to the NIH would damage effective prevention programs like syringe exchange programs.

While cuts may help achieve the short-term goal of reducing the federal deficit, Ruppal urged Congress to "consider the long-term human and societal impacts of their decisions."

He added that one infection produces $355,000 in lifetime medical costs, but preventing the 56,000 new cases of HIV that are diagnosed each year could translate to saving $20 billion in lifetime medical costs overall.

Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, also said that further reductions will increase waiting lists for people with HIV who need medication, which was previously provided by state governments before budget shortfalls led to cuts in those areas. Currently, there are 6,000 people on AIDS Drug Assistance Program wait lists in 10 states.

"Not only did the House Republicans erase any funding increase, they failed to continue to fund the $25 million in FY11 and, in effect, will be taking away medications from people," Schmid said. "If we have long wait lists now, just imagine what the situation will be like next year with no increases in funding. Access to early quality care and treatment keep people with HIV/AIDS healthy and free from opportunistic infections, resistance to medications, and away from expensive emergency rooms."

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