Clinton Criticized On Ryan White HIV/AIDS Funding genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Video-Philes

The Ryan White Act has been a mainstay in providing HIV/AIDS funding for a number of years having been originated in 1990. In this year’s effort to reauthorize the funding, a conflict has emerged that is generating some interesting political spin. As I understand the issue, the current reauthorization proposes to change the way in which funding is apportioned to the individual states such that some of the larger states that initially suffered the greatest incidence of HIV/AIDS would potentially lose some funding.

Basically, the prior definitional guidelines provided funding based upon the incidence of AIDS...a definitional term that indicates an individual's disease progression as opposed to merely looking at the occurrence of HIV infections. Under the new guidelines, funding would be weighted towards the number of infections within a state as opposed to the number of individuals identified to have AIDS.

Senator Clinton has become the focal point of the political spin surrounding the funding changes. She has indicated a willingness to block the passage of the bill if the guidelines are in fact altered. The bottom line is her concern that New York may lose funding if the appropriation method is altered. California, Florida, and Illinois would also stand to lose funding. Clinton detractors have asserted that the Senator is merely looking at the 2008 political implications in her opposition to the funding changes...they assert that the new funding would shift money to southern states...a region the Senator isn't likely to win should she run for President in 2008. Read the full article here.

From The Washington Post:

This year's fight has pitted the states in which the AIDS epidemic began -- those with large cities that now have large populations of people with AIDS -- against smaller states in which the incidence of HIV infections, but not full-blown AIDS, has soared. The current law's formula is based on the number of patients with AIDS; the new funding formula would, in effect, distribute funding based on the number of patients with HIV or AIDS.

Some of the largest AIDS organization side with Clinton. Gay Men's Health Crisis, for example, "fully supports Senator Clinton's position on the current bill," a spokeswoman said.

On the other hand, Christopher M. Hamlin, chaplain for an outpatient clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, favors the new formula. "The money needs to follow the virus," he said. "More funds need to be directed to the part of the community that has seen the numbers increase so much, especially rural communities."

Some critics see electoral motives behind Clinton's position. "If you look at the states she has to carry to become president -- California, New York, Illinois, Florida -- those would be the hardest hit if the formula were changed," said Charles Grant, founder of AbsoluteCare Medical Center Inc., the largest private HIV/AIDS medical center in Georgia.

Asked why Clinton might countenance lower funding for Southern and rural states, Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nation's largest community-based HIV/AIDS medical provider, said, "I don't think she expects to carry the South."

I personally think it is unfortunate that it is being suggested that the Senator is making a political calculation. In fact, Senator Schumer of New York is also opposed to the new funding guidelines. Clearly, whatever the Senator does is now believed to be motivated by her political aspirations despite the fact that she may simply be working in the best interest of her New York constituents. It seems like a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Unfortunately it points out how much partisan attention the Senator seems to attract regardless of her actions. With regards to the Ryan White Act, I simply don't buy the political spin.

Given the topic, I thought I would include the following AIDS awareness video. Thought Theater has previously posted AIDS awareness videos from France here and here. While it is unfair to make direct comparisons of the following video to the French videos, it should be obvious to the viewer that the French perspective would be met with criticism here in the U.S. despite being focused on individual empowerment and a clearly more positive awareness message.

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2006 | 10:21 AM
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