NMAC’s Congressional HIV/STD Action Day: Advocating Against Proposed Federal Cuts to HIV Services

NMAC’s Congressional HIV/STD Action Day, September 6, to Focus on Proposed Federal Cuts to HIV Services
by Hank Trout

NMAC has announced that its bi-annual HIV/STD Action Day is scheduled for Wednesday, September 6, 2017, the day before the opening of the U.S. Conference on AIDS in Washington, D.C., bringing together some 300 advocates and activists from all over the country. The purpose of the Action Day is to prevent the draconian cuts to funds and services proposed in the current administration’s budget.

“The President’s proposed budget would devastate the progress made in the fight against HIV,” writes NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata. “If passed, this budget would make extreme cuts to programs that guarantee services and coverage for those living with or who are most at risk for HIV.”

Action Day attendees will convene on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday, September 6 to ask elected officials to prevent proposed budget cuts that would irreparably harm the progress made in the fight to end HIV and in providing services to those living with HIV.

Since its inception in 1987, NMAC has lead with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. They have advanced that mission through a variety of programs and services.

NMAC’s urgency is in the numbers. Black women are 20 times more likely to get HIV than white women. If current trends continue, fifty percent of black gay men will have contracted HIV by the time they are thirty-five years old (only eight percent of white gay men are projected to be infected). Even with quality HIV services, the results for many black women and gay men of color are awful. And the proposed cuts in the administration’s FY18 budget would decimate many programs that primarily benefit people of color, for instance, eliminating the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF), which provides over $50 million to support a wide range of activities designed to support communities of color living with HIV, and decreasing funding for the Ryan White Care Act programs by $59 million.

Echoing NMAC’s concerns about proposed FY18 budget cuts, Robert Reister, who serves on the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council and plans to attend the NMAC Action Day, said that Colorado is uniquely situated for potential disaster if these budget cuts are approved. “Our ADAP program is in good shape through 2018-19,” Mr. Reister said, “but my fear is that with major cuts to these programs and the enormity of growth in our state, there will be a run on program resources in a couple of years.” Another long-term HIV/AIDS survivor, John Janes, a resident of Guerneville CA who is attending on his own, is glad for the scheduled meetings with members of Congress, where he will be “advocating for needs of the HIV community: avoiding spending cuts, and if possible increasing funding in key areas. My Congressional representatives are very friendly, but it still is a good thing to visit them personally.”

NMAC’s HIV/STD Action Day activities begin at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6, 2017; a complete schedule of Action Day events can be found on their website.

For more information on HIV/STD Action Day, visit www.nmac.org/programs/hivstd-action-day/.