WASHINGTON, June 27 AIDS Action criticizes Congress on National HIV Testing Day for substantially under-funding domestic HIV/AIDS prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). House and Senate Appropriators have both proposed HIV/AIDS spending bills that allocate no increase to CDC's HIV prevention budget. CDC is expected to soon release a new estimate revising from 40,000 to more than 50,000 the estimated number of people who are infected with HIV each year in the United States. Congress's decision to flat fund HIV prevention in the face of increased HIV incidence is unacceptable.
"HIV prevention efforts cannot be effective without adequate funding. It is unfortunate that on National HIV Testing Day we are forced to point out that there is no increase in HIV/AIDS prevention funds, which work to provide voluntary HIV testing as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy. The proposed funding levels also fail to ensure that when people test positive they will have access to immediate high quality treatment and care," said Ronald Johnson, AIDS Action's Deputy Executive Director. He continued, "When someone tests positive today, organizations that provide HIV care do their best to make sure that they receive the medications, care and treatment that they need. But, Congress is simply not providing enough funds to keep up with the current epidemic."
AIDS Action takes the opportunity of National HIV Testing Day to remind all people that there are between 250,000-350,000 people in the United States living with HIV who do not know that they are infected. Those who are aware of their HIV status are less likely to transmit the virus. Additionally, those who test negative and are counseled are better able to stay negative. People who receive an early diagnosis of HIV have substantially better health outcomes than people who are diagnosed at late stages of HIV, including stages that meet the criteria for an AIDS diagnosis.
"National HIV Testing Day is an annual reminder for us to take control of our health," said Johnson. "AIDS Action urges all people in the U.S. to get an HIV test and we urge Congress to stand up and provide funds for more prevention, treatment, care, education, training and research on this deadly disease. Increasing access to routine, voluntary HIV testing and informing people of the importance of getting an HIV test is a public health imperative. Providing adequate funding to support HIV testing and prevention is Congress' responsibility.
AIDS Action Council commends the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) for founding and continuing to host National HIV Testing Day. Official Testing day information can be found at: http://www.napwa.org/public/programs/nhtd.php.
Testing resources can be found at http://www.hivtest.org.
AIDS Action Council is the longest-serving national HIV/AIDS advocacy organization. It serves as a national voice for its members--community-based organizations, local health departments and clinics, treatment and prevention service providers, and health educators - by advocating for effective legislative and social policies and programs for HIV prevention, treatment, and care. http://www.aidsaction.org
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SOURCE AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc.