FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2017
Washington, DC – NMAC is dismayed to hear about the deep cuts proposed by the President’s FY18 budget around essential programs that have helped us gain ground in turning the tide of the HIV epidemic. Core programmatic efforts have helped us sustain advancements and break new ground in the battle against HIV. Particularly, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF) has played a key role in advancing health and well-being for communities of color across this country. The President’s current budget recommends no funding for the SMAIF at this critical time in the fund’s existence.
The HHS SMAIF was established by Congress in 1999 as part of the Minority AIDS Initiative in response to the growing concern about the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Each year, SMAIF provides more than $50 million to support a wide range of activities that are designed to reduce new HIV infections, improve HIV-related health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities in racial and ethnic minority communities.
“The Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund is a true example of innovation with timely projects to find solutions that maximize the deployment of resources to facilitate strategic community investment,” stated Paul Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC. “These focused grants are used to fill gaps, target key challenges in the public health framework and find new approaches for reaching those were most vulnerable. Lessons learned extend to other the health arenas as well as benefiting those vulnerable to HIV or living with HIV through cost-effective programs.”
The SMAIF promotes novel programs that address critical emerging issues, and have established new collaborations across Federal agencies. These projects are significant in that they are designed to complement – and not duplicate – other HIV prevention and care activities and to create lasting changes in Federal programs that improve the quality, efficiency and impact of HIV programs that serve racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, the SMAIF funds are used to:
- Implement best practices to address long-standing and critical emerging issues to improve HIV prevention and care for the highest-risk racial and ethnic minorities
- Expand the capacity of the HIV prevention and care workforce to address the needs of the highest-risk racial and ethnic minorities
- Improve access to HIV prevention and care services for underserved racial and ethnic minorities who otherwise would have only very limited access to HIV services
- Provide new avenues for agencies to work together and break down silos in HIV prevention and care programs for racial and ethnic minorities
- Promote lasting changes across the Federal HIV prevention and care portfolio that improve HIV-related outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities
“It is important to remember that the President’s budget is just a recommendation to Congress. The final allocations of funds in entirely in the hands of Congress,” continued Kawata. “And it incumbent on us to make sure they understand the importance of our programs what they do to change lives and best use our resources to their best efforts.”
TAKE ACTION: HIV/STD Action Day is scheduled for September 6th, the day prior to the start of the United States Conference on AIDS. The President’s budget has cut or eliminated many important programs, it’s going to be a fight and our movement cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. If we don’t support and advocate for HIV funding and programs, who will? Register today, its free! Congress is in session on September 6th so your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives can see you.