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HIV/AIDS groups warn of $659 million in cuts without new deficit agreement

Several HIV/AIDS groups are warning that sequestration would result in automatic spending cuts of $659 million for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs.

The cuts would occur on Jan. 2, 2013, unless Congress and the president reach some agreement on a different way to reduce the federal deficit.

“These cuts will have a devastating impact and will be yet another blow for low-income individuals and people of color living with HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis at a time when we can least afford it,” said Kali Lindsey of the National Minority AIDS Council. “Investing in our health care infrastructure will reduce long-term health care costs for chronic conditions like HIV and viral hepatitis, is the right thing to do, and is critical if we are to end these twin epidemics.”

Chris Collins, of amFAR/The Foundation for AIDS Research, said, “Sequestration will undermine everything we’ve done to accomplish the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals of reducing HIV incidence and death. Budget cuts through sequestration would bring crucial life-saving research at the National Institutes of Health to a halt, squandering enormous scientific opportunities including AIDS vaccine and cure research.”

Added Terrance Moore of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, “Now more than ever, we need our nation to commit to providing state health departments with the resources necessary to end the HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis epidemics once and for all.”

The three groups estimated that with sequestration:

• 15,708 people will lose access to crucial life-saving drugs.

• 5,000 households will lose housing support.

• 460 AIDS research grants will be eliminated.

412 people living with HIV will not be diagnosed.

• $65.2 million in HIV prevention services will be cut.

• $1.6 million in viral hepatitis prevention services will be cut.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 50,000 new HIV infections each year, that about 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS and about 5.3 million people are living with viral hepatitis in the United States.

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