President’s budget likely to cut $300 million from HIV/AIDS research

Just days before the United States will officially conclude its involvement in the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), announced in a speech at the World Health Organization that a measure signed into law by President Obama last year had contributed to a reduction in funding for HIV/AIDS research. The law, known as the Ryan White CARE Act, requires organizations that receive government funds from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide care to HIV-positive people with jobs, as well as care for them after they have their initial diagnosis.

Although Dr. Fauci said the law, which covers about 5 million Americans, was a success, he said he believed that it would cut approximately $300 million a year from his division’s HIV/AIDS research.

“People with HIV are employed. It may not be much but, in the overall scheme of things, it is hard to pin a lot of different outcomes on it,” Dr. Fauci said. “So we saw what was happening: Funding was being reduced significantly, in response to a mandate from the very people who got those funds. It kind of shocked me and shocked my staff.”

The last budget, for the 2017-2020 period, cut at least $15 million from the fiscal year 2017 base funding for Dr. Fauci’s division. He said that federal researchers will also be affected by the Trump administration’s decision to cut $600 million from research that had been going into the fight against malaria. The funding cuts, Dr. Fauci said, are “not trivial at all.”

“It really shows the real danger of implementing one-size-fits-all mandates,” he said. “That gets good publicity, but the demands of federal funding is not that easy to meet.”

Dr. Fauci said he had asked the administration to withdraw the Ryan White CARE Act legislation but that his appeals had been unsuccessful. He said the budget would probably be submitted in July, and he was waiting to see what new proposals had been made. Dr. Fauci said he hoped that the fight against HIV/AIDS could be expanded to include treatment to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, and that Congress would consider extending the Ryan White CARE Act further.

“Just because the budget is coming out in a few weeks doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “We are looking at the future and the outcome we would like to see is a combination of prevention and medicine. In order to do that, we will need help from government funding.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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