***UPDATE 12/19: The final spending bill for FY 2012 was agreed to by the Senate. The resolution to fund the emergency spending bill with an across the board 1.83 percent cut to most discretionary funds did not pass. Also of interest, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) domestic TB budget for FY 2012 is $140.8 million, a $300,000 decrease from FY 2011, as passed in the Labor HHS spending bill.
**UPDATE 12/16: The funding bill has passed the House and now heads to the Senate. The House also passed a resolution which would pay for an $8.1 billion emergency spending bill by making a 1.83 percent across the board cut to most FY 2012 base discretionary spending, to include the programs mentioned below with the exception of the MHRP. It is unclear whether this resolution will pass the Senate.
Congress is set to put its seal of approval on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill to fund the government for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2012. The bill allocates $8.17 billion to global health programs, an increase of more than $320 million over FY 2011 enacted levels.
Critical global health programs still took a hit. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program sustained approximately $93 million in cuts compared to FY 2011 funding levels. This comes on the heels of an announcement by the Obama administration that AIDS is a U.S. policy priority and committing to putting 6 million people on HIV treatment by the end of 2013. The funding cuts will pose a challenge to these promises. If one were to project the number of individuals for whom PEPFAR could purchase medication in a given year with the $93 million – using the $335 per year per individual treatment costs through PEPFAR cited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her address to the National Institutes of Health in November – approximately 277,612 would be covered.
The bill also commits $1.05 billion to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – the same amount committed last year. While a healthy contribution, it still puts the U.S. behind on reaching its three-year pledge to contribute $4 billion to the Fund by 2013.
To the chagrin of HIV/AIDS prevention advocates, the bill also gives the directive that no funds for domestic or global HIV/AIDS may be directed toward needle exchange programs, a critical means of protecting injection drug users (IDU) from HIV-infection. Of the approximately 16 million IDU in the world, 3 million are infected with HIV and one in three new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa is attributable to injection drug use.
The National Institutes of Health will experience a bump of $299 million in the bill over FY 2011 levels. Global tuberculosis (TB) efforts will receive a five percent bump from the previous year, with $236 million for FY 2012.
The HIV Medicine Association issued a response to the bill today, addressing the elements of proposed domestic and global HIV/AIDS funding which could jeopardize the administration’s goal of an “AIDS-free generation.”
Stay tuned to Science Speaks for updates as this bill makes its way through the approval process.
In other funding news, the Department of Defense funding bill for FY 2012, passed by the House and Senate this week, handed even-funding to the Walter Reed Amy Institute of Research (WRAIR) Military HIV Research Program (MHRP). While the defense budget request included only $6.8 million for the program – an amount that would have severely crippled the critical program, including vital research efforts on the HIV vaccine front – the conference bill allocated $22.8 million to the MHRP, leaving the program level funded from the previous year.