Baltimore Could Lose More Than Half of its HIV/AIDS Funding

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care actBaltimore could lose more than half of its HIV/AIDS federal funding if the Ryan White CARE Act -- which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the U.S. -- is not reauthorized by the end of 2006, local officials said Monday, the Baltimore Sun reports. According to the Sun, the CARE Act is the region's primary funding source for HIV/AIDS services (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 10/31).

Congress last month adjourned without the Senate passing a measure to reauthorize the CARE Act. Five senators, including some from New Jersey and New York, blocked Senate consideration of a House-approved bill (HR 6143) sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) that would change CARE Act funding formulas so that rural areas experiencing increasing numbers of HIV/AIDS cases receive higher funding amounts, which would decrease funding allocated to urban areas.

Some legislators from states with large urban areas -- including California, New Jersey and New York -- have opposed measures that would change CARE Act funding formulas, saying they could harm HIV/AIDS programs in areas with higher HIV prevalence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/17). 

According to the Sun, the Baltimore region -- which receives about $20 million in CARE Act funding, reaching about 10,000 people living with HIV/AIDS -- "would not be hurt in the tilt towards rural states."

However, the state would be affected by legislation that reauthorized the CARE Act in 2000 and gave states six years to begin reporting people who are HIV-positive by name -- not numerical code, as Maryland currently does. The state has yet to switch to the name-based reporting method.

If HR 6143 becomes law, the state would be protected from losing CARE Act funding if they commit to making the required changes in a reasonable timetable, the Sun reports. If the bill is not passed, "Maryland's funding will decline as soon as March," according to the Sun.

The Maryland General Assembly earlier this year approved a provision that would begin to implement name-based reporting, however, the change could take four to five years, the Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 10/31).

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