Marriage Can Take A Back Seat–People Will Die

People affected by or with HIV and AIDS, staggered by the news that California is dismantling its system of care and prevention, now have to face the prospect that all federal funding will disappear at the end of September.

Marriage is going to happen, within the next few years. But right now there are other issues, other priorities that should take precedence. The bottom line is: what use is marriage when the person you want to wed is now in danger of dying from AIDS?

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger blue-penciled 80% of the funding for education and prevention and testing programs, leaving only federal dollars available to continue testing efforts. However, the Ryan White Act program ends on September 30th, unless renewed by Congress.

Care and support systems for persons with HIV or AIDS have been gutted by Schwarzenegger. The elimination of these funds includes approximately 50% of the total funding for early intervention (primary medical care and transmission prevention counseling) and home and community based care (medical case management) programs. Again, the state is depending on federal funds to continue some services.

The AIDS Drugs Assistance Program, which many low-income patients rely upon, is only funded until the end of June 2010. After that, it’s uncertain whether the program will continue.

California’s HIV/AIDS funding was cut by $85 million.

If the Ryan White Act is not renewed by the end of September, there will be no funding in California for any HIV/AIDS services. What people fear would happen with Schwarzenegger’s cuts would become a certainty–people will die.

The Bilerico Project Report printed an alert on August 7th. "AIDS Action is prompting the national HIV/AIDS community to take action and call President Obama and Secretary Sebelius to demand that Congress act to extend the Ryan White Care Act before it sunsets on September 30, 2009.

"Unless Congress and the President take action, the Ryan White AIDS Program will be terminated in 8 weeks and the federal government will shut the doors of access to critical care, treatment and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

"As America experiences a national crisis involving healthcare reform, conservative groups are actively disrupting town hall meetings for Members of Congress to listen to the challenges of people falling out of medical care simply because they are not eligible for health care coverage or they just find the system of care impossible to navigate. Call The White House and Secretary Sebelius and tell them to voice their support to Congress for extending the Ryan White Program. For talking points and contact numbers, click on the link for AIDS Action’s Action Alert."

While the scope of service reductions due to Schwarzenegger’s blue pencil cuts in Fresno County are not yet known, they are expected to be severe. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors was expected to terminate the county’s contract for prevention services with The Living Room on August 11th.

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