In Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2019, the administration proposed cutting millions of dollars for programs helping to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The reductions included cutting $40 million from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV/AIDS prevention programs, and $26 million from the federal housing program for people living with AIDS, among other cuts, according to nonprofit advocacy group The AIDS Institute.
The president’s budget is unlikely to pass Congress in its current form. Lawmakers will likely reject most cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, as they did last year, according to Carl Schmid, deputy executive director at The AIDS Institute.
Still, the document plays an important role in laying out the values and issues the administration cares about. For leading LGBTQ groups, the proposed cuts sent a message that the president doesn’t care about queer Americans, who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
“It’s all part of Trump’s attacks on marginalized communities … He picked a vice president with a negative LGBTQ record, and now, looking at his proposed cuts [to HIV/AIDS programs] ― two years in a row ― it’s indicative of a White House that has done negative things to both the queer and African-American community, over and over again,” Alex Morash, public relations director at advocacy group the National LGBTQ Task Force, told HuffPost on Wednesday.
While there’s been significant progress in recent years to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in the U.S., it’s still a challenge: Over 1 million Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2015, the latest data available, according to the CDC.
What’s more, HIV disproportionately affects LGBTQ Americans and people of color. In 2016, gay and bisexual men represented two-thirds of all HIV diagnoses. While African-Americans made up around 12 percent of the U.S. population that year, they had 44 percent of new HIV diagnoses.
A CDC analysis from 2016 found that if current rates of HIV diagnoses persisted, 1 in 2 black gay men in the U.S. would be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetimes.
“As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are, they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action,” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, said in a release at the time. “Hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now.”