President Biden, unveiling on Friday his initial budget request to Congress in the first year of his administration, called for ramping up funds to beat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, signaling he’d continue the PrEP-centric initiative that began in the previous administration.
In the preliminary budget request for fiscal year 2022, known in Washington parlance as the “skinny budget” in anticipation of broader request at a later time, Biden seeks an increase of $267 million for Ending the HIV Epidemic, building on the more than $400 million Congress has appropriated for the program since 2019.
As it was launched in the Trump administration, the initiative sought a 90 percent decrease in new incidents of HIV infections across the United States by 2030, although Biden campaigned on beating that goal by five years and ending the domestic HIV epidemic by 2025.
Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, hailed in a statement the proposed increased funds for the initiative, but said it falls short of the amount advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS were seeking.
“While it falls short of what the community has requested, if this funding is realized it will continue the momentum already created and make further progress in ending HIV in the U.S. Efforts to end HIV will help eradicate an infectious disease that we have been battling for the last 40 years and help correct racial and health inequities in our nation,” Schmid said.
Counterintuitively, Trump had sought more funds to beat HIV/AIDS in his final year in office than Biden has in his first year in office. Last year, President Trump’s budget called for an increase of $412 million for the second year of the initiative for a total of $716 million while Congress settled on an increase of approximately $137 million.
Biden seeks increased funds for HIV/AIDS at a time when advocates in the fight against HIV were at a crossroads at the start of a new administration. Questions had persisted about whether or not the Biden administration would continue the initiative, which was the brainchild of health officials in the Trump administration.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.