Los Angeles, CA — AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), Monday, condemned Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wide-ranging proposal to eliminate general funding for virtually all of California’s life-saving HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs from the state’s fiscal year 2010 budget. The proposed cuts, which would take effect July 1, 2009, came just days after the governor announced plans to terminate the state’s entire $24.6 million HIV prevention portfolio as a cost-saving measure.

The latest plan, which would amount to a $55 million cut to California’s safety net for HIV-positive residents, endangers thousands of low-income Californians who depend on the state for their HIV drug therapy, housing and other vital resources. State funding for HIV testing, a cornerstone of California’s HIV prevention efforts, would also be eliminated. Nearly 20,000 state residents are HIV-positive but do not know it, and they account for the majority of new infections.

“Ultimately, this ‘save now, pay later’ approach will cost California dearly–in expense and, tragically, lives,” said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. “Slashing at both ends of the HIV care continuum–prevention and care–is an equation for failure, particularly as the AIDS epidemic rages throughout the state’s most vulnerable communities.”

The cuts could affect California’s share of federal HIV/AIDS funding, as well. Initiatives like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides HIV drugs to more than 34,000 low-income or uninsured Californians, rely on federal matching dollars that are contingent on state funding.

“This would begin a devastating chain reaction that will ultimately crowd emergency rooms and fuel new infections,” Thompson added. “It’s beyond regressive. It’s inhumane.”

Total cuts to state funding for HIV/AIDS care and prevention would amount to more than $80 million.

Advocacy groups are planning rallies in Los Angeles on June 5 and in Sacramento on June 10.
More information is available at http://stopthehivcuts.wordpress.com/blog.