Bay Area AIDS groups are lashing out at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger following his decision to trim $52 million in AIDS funding from the State Office of AIDS.
The cuts were part of an additional $489 million in budget cuts the governor made using his line item veto. According to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the funding supports "HIV/AIDS education and prevention, therapeutic monitoring, counseling and testing, early intervention, home and community-based care and housing."
AIDS Foundation director Mark Cloutier said in a statement, "In a time of great economic hardship, California is balancing its budget by eliminating services to its most vulnerable citizens. By wiping out all state funding for HIV prevention and testing, we risk a serious setback in the hard-won progress we've made against the AIDS epidemic in California."
The only program surviving the cuts is ADAP program which provides treatment for low-income people with HIV and AIDS.
The governor's cuts come on top of $30 million in reductions approved by the legislature. The California Department of Public Health's Office of AIDS estimated the cuts could actually reach $80 to $85 million dollars.
The Governor acknowledged the painful decision saying, "Those are ugly cuts and I'm the only one that is really responsible for those cuts because the Legislature left, they didn't want to make those cuts."
Schwarzenegger described the cuts as "the good, the bad and the ugly." Although AIDS organizations were left trying to sort out exactly which part can actually be called "good."