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Schwarzengger's Cut of $85 Million to AIDS Programs Will Hurt

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Photo by Avoir Chaud via Flickr

Photo by Avoir Chaud via Flickr
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's line item cuts to the state budget on Tuesday drastically reduced many programs, including state parks and domestic violence funding. AIDS/HIV programs were also hit particularly bad to the tune of around $85 million, leaving the California’s Office of AIDS with only 20 percent of its funding for programs like HIV education and prevention, HIV counseling and testing, home health and early intervention.

"When making these difficult reductions to important program services, I have sought to protect the continued delivery of drug therapies to low-income individuals living with HIV and thus retained funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program," explained Schwarzengger briefly in his budget book (.pdf).

"Los Angeles County has the second largest AIDS epidemic in the country," said AIDS Project Los Angeles Executive Director Craig E. Thompson on Tuesday in a statement. "California was, until today, a model for other states nationwide in HIV/AIDS care and treatment."

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Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood, is outraged. "Just this year, an estimated 7,000 Californians are expected to become HIV-infected," she said in a statement posted online. "How many more will become infected with the governor’s cuts in HIV prevention funding?"

"More than just short-sighted, these cuts are lethal," continued Thompson. "We are now poised to reverse more than a decade of progress toward fighting AIDS in California."

A protest in downtown Los Angeles is scheduled for some time next week.