Md. AIDS Administrator Asks Congress to Up Funding


WASHINGTON (Sept. 16, 2008)—More federal funding is needed for the fight against HIV/AIDS at the state and local level, Maryland AIDS Administration Director Heather Hauck told federal lawmakers on Tuesday.

Funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps states monitor the HIV/AIDS crisis. These surveillance programs help track the number of new HIV/AIDS cases, the transmission of the disease, its risk factors and risk populations.

"Over the past six years, CDC funding to state and local health departments has decreased by $30 million," Hauck said to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee was trying to determine how much money CDC would need for HIV prevention.

Maryland's surveillance program funding has been reduced by 40 percent and no longer pays for HIV drug-resistance tests and tracking different HIV strains, Hauck said.

"Funding has not kept pace," she said, with the needs of areas most vulnerable to the AIDS crisis, such as Baltimore and Prince George's County, Hauck said.

The CDC recently announced there were more than 56,000 new HIV infection cases in 2006. Those who are most affected by the virus include men who have sex with men, the prison population, African-Americans as well as Hispanics.

There were 32,811 Marylanders living with HIV/AIDS in 2006, and it ranked sixth in the nation with 1,626 reported AIDS cases, according to a CDC surveillance report. There were 2,144 new HIV cases in the state in 2006, state records show.

At the same hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said the agency spends about $2.9 billion on prevention efforts but "we could spend about $3.5 billion."

"We need to do more than what we're doing right now," said CDC Director Julie Gerberding.

Dr. Gerberding said more leaders need to help with community prevention and education efforts.

The CDC has provided sufficient funding for HIV testing and counseling within the state, but not enough for education, said Hauck.

"We just aren't able to reach as many people as we normally reach," she said after the hearing.

While Hauck's agency does not conduct research, it does data collection and analysis to track state trends.

In the future, Hauck said she has "a number of initiatives" planned for HIV prevention in Maryland, such as increasing the number of prevention programs.

One of the initiatives involves working more closely with community-based organizations to make sure they have the resources to increase prevention efforts within their communities.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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