Senator: Move money from HIV research to “more important” diseases

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Sen. William Cassidy (R-La)

NIH Director Collins, in turn, says 10 percent apportioned to HIV for last two decades won’t be automatic

“As a practicing physician, sometimes still,” Sen. William Cassidy (R – La), told National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins today during an Appropriations sub-committee hearing on funding for the agency, “I think we should double your budget.”

In the absence of that possibility, however, the United States Senator from Louisiana devoted the rest of his question time to repeatedly suggest cutting funding for research to reduce incidence, improve treatments, find a cure, and address the illnesses that accompany HIV, a disease Cassidy said, “was formerly a death sentence and now something you live with.”

The Senator’s priority? “diseases such as Alzheimers dementia,” he said, “which are more important.”

But it was HIV that he returned to again and again, asking, after eliciting from Collins that HIV research will not receive the automatic 10 percent it has received for the last two decades, “but can we move it out of HIV?”

Collins cited recent advances, opening the real possibility to end the HIV epidemic, scientific priorities, he said, that he would hate to see abandoned.

“I don’t want to interrupt,” Cassidy said, as Collins began to answer one of his questions, “but I have such limited time.”

And again, “can we move the money out of that area?”

It is not the first time Sen. Cassidy has focused on cutting funding to research to address HIV, an illness that 37 million people worldwide are infected with, that infects two million more each year, and that killed an estimated 1.2 million people last year, an illness Cassidy said in a March hearing that he considers “substantially addressed — still problems but substantially.”


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