Things have been really busy at ACT UP these days... it's budget season, not to mention we're gearing up for a big housing campaign.
Some quick updates: we're collecting and crunching the numbers on hundreds of housing surveys we've collected, we've been meeting with AIDS and housing activists in Philadelphia and thinking about needs and strategies, and we've been doing tremendous research (some documented on this blog) about how housing is funded and who makes housing decisions in Philadelphia.
Not to mention we've been strategizing about how to respond to the cuts and flat-funding of AIDS treatment and prevention services that are on the table in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Federal Budgets.
Here's the update on the state budget. While most money spent on HIV/AIDS in Pennsylvania is federal, the state has two budget items related to AIDS. The first is for AIDS medicine, which, thank goodness, is not being cut (it's being maintained at previous years' levels).
The second is money that is, according to the state, used to fund "a coordinated strategy to prevent and change high-risk behaviors and provide resources and direction for sustaining preventive behavior and avoiding infection with HIV....The program includes on-site training, both print and electronic public information services, community intervention projects for at-risk populations and the provision of care, case management and supportive services for persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Confidential and anonymous HIV testing and partner notification services are also provided at over 500 sites statewide."
Governor Rendell and the House of Representatives proposed maintaining current funding levels at 10 million dollars, as they have been in the last couple of years. Of course, we'd like to see increases in the funding, to combat rising infection rates and unmet needs. But it gets worse... the Senate is proposing CUTTING THIS FUND BY 25%.
That would mean drastic cuts or even closure of agencies providing prevention and support services like HIV testing, counseling, and personal care.
Fortunately, it's not too late to prevent these cuts -- the House of Representatives and Senate will get together to hammer out the differences in their proposed budgets, and the Governor then has to approve the joint proposal.
You can help them make the right decision by contacting your State Representatives and Senators, and Governor Rendell, and asking them to reject the cuts proposed by the Senate.
You can find their contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/.