The San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance committee held a hearing Wednesday afternoon about the state of HIV and AIDS resource funding in the city.
The hearing, requested by city supervisor and committee member Scott Wiener, included speakers from the city’s Department of Public Health and local HIV/AIDS and health organizations.
Wiener headed the hearing by addressing severe federal cuts next year and the how the city’s general fund will need to fill in some of the shortfall.
“The purpose of the hearing today is to discuss what the cuts will look like,” Wiener said, “and how as a city we can and will respond to it.”
Wiener emphasized the human impact of the cuts, especially after HIV/AIDS prevention programs have proved successful.
“We are winning the war on AIDS in San Francisco,” Wiener said. “But these cuts from the federal government continue to challenge us and, frankly, threaten to derail progress we’ve made.”
As of December 2011, 15,489 residents were living with HIV or AIDS in the city with fewer new cases reported each of the past few years.
Greg Wagner, chief financial officer for the city’s Department of Public Health, laid out the various funding cuts slated for city HIV and AIDS programs.
At the federal level, funding comes in from Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which for the next budget year will be slashed by 6.8 percent, or $1.2 million.
In 2000, $35 million was brought in through the federal program, however for the 2013-2014 year, only $20 million will go to San Francisco’s services.
Funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also being reduced. In 2011, $8.8 million in CDC HIV prevention grants came into the local health department, however by 2016, Wagner said the federal agency will provide only $4.11 million.
San Francisco’s gains in combating HIV threatened by funding shortfalls [Ex]
Additionally, possible federal sequestration cuts could lop off an additional $1.3 million, Wagner said.
Sequestration went into effect on March 1, prompting $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts nationwide over the next decade.
The impact of all the presumed cuts would reduce medical services to thousands of clients.
Wagner said the Ryan White program cuts would affect 1,700 clients, while the CDC reductions would target 17,000 contacts within the city’s AIDS/HIV programming.
Supervisor David Campos spoke in favor of filling in federal cuts, especially since those affected by the loss of AIDS and HIV program money tend to be vulnerable populations, such as gay men of color or elderly African-Americans.
“We will have people who will literally die if these services are not provided,” he said.
He speculated that filling in the cuts to maintain preventative services would be more cost-effective.
Dozens spoke during public comment, with nearly all speakers, including HIV patients and community health leaders, asking for the city to backfill federal cuts and calling the spending a smart financial move.
The city’s proposed 2013-2014 budget is scheduled to be finalized by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News