The Potential Impact of Sequestration on HIV and Hepatitis Programs

By Julie Scofield October 18, 2012

In January 2013, budget cuts totaling approximately 8 percent of spending across federal programs are set to go into effect as result of an agreement made between Congress and the White House last summer in the debate over raising the debt ceiling. As part of this agreement, the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to produce a bill by November 23, 2011, identifying budgetary savings of at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, has triggered an automatic spending reduction process known as sequestration.

The Impact on U.S. States and Territories

NASTAD recently worked with state AIDS directors to conduct an analysis of the impact of sequestration on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs. NASTAD found that state HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs will have to eliminate prevention initiatives, remove clients from AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) and other vital health coverage services and layoff critical health department program staff.

As a result of sequestration:

  • 15,708 enrolled clients will be removed from ADAP
  • 412 HIV positive people will not find out their status due to cuts to testing funding
  • Ryan White Program Part B grants will be cut by over $34 million
  • HIV prevention by health departments will be cut by $28 million
  • HIV surveillance by health departments will be cut by $9.7 million
  • Viral hepatitis prevention will be cut by $1.6 million, an amount which currently funds nine viral hepatitis prevention coordinators (VHPC)

Sequestration will erode the nation’s ability to meet the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Department of Health and Human Services Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (VHAP). These deeps cuts to public health programs will greatly compromise the ability of state health departments to implement programs, prevent new infections and lower long-term health care costs, and are occurring at a time when ending the AIDS epidemic is in our reach.

What You Can Do to Help Stop Sequestration

NASTAD is working closely with the rest of the HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and non-defense discretionary communities to advocate on the Hill against sequestration, but the Hill needs to hear more. Our Chair, Randy Mayer, recently encouraged our members to share this information with their communities and write to their Congressional representatives detailing the devastating impacts that sequestration will have on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs. I want to underscore Randy’s call to action and encourage you to follow through on Randy’s request and do all that you can to weigh-in on the negative impact of sequestration.

We have worked so hard to prevent new HIV and viral hepatitis infections and to increase access to care. Sequestration will cause great harm to our programs and set us back in our efforts. Please take the time to contact your communities and legislators in Washington. To learn more about how budget sequestration would impact domestic HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs, please check out the resources below:

Tell us how you plan to stop sequestration by leaving a comment below.