September 7, 2017 at 8:13 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Pelosi: Trump budget would hurt people with HIV/AIDS

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at the U.S. Conference on AIDS at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in D.C. on Sept. 7, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said President Trump’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year would adversely impact people with HIV/AIDS.

She noted in her speech at the opening of the U.S. Conference on AIDS at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in D.C. that Trump’s budget would cut $850 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and $225 million from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Pelosi also said the proposed budget would cut $150 million from the Centers for Disease Control, $59 million to the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act that provides assistance to low-income people with HIV and their families, $26 million from the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Program and $72 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.

Pelosi said the budget would also cut $7.5 billion from the National Institutes of Health after Trump stressed during the campaign that he was “going to rid our country of the misery of disease.” She also noted efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Pelosi in her speech noted 40 percent of people with HIV/AIDS depend on Medicaid for their health care.

“I don’t want to get into personalities here, but In Trumpcare all of that was eliminated or very much in doubt,” she said. “So we have to recognize that the battle for the budget is a fight that involves our family here. The budget should be a statement of our national values and what’s important to us should be reflected there in terms of how we allocate our resources.”

Pelosi earlier in her speech described HIV as “a very resourceful thief” that “mutates” at the point “when you think you’ve quieted it.”

“We have to be resourceful in how we fight it,” she said. “That takes resources. And so I’m concerned.”

“It shouldn’t have to be a fight for resources at this point, but it is,” added Pelosi.

Up to 3,000 people are expected to attend the conference that will take place through Sunday.

Pelosi in her speech noted she spoke about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the first remarks she gave on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives immediately after her 1987 swearing in.

“I knew I had to be brief,” said Pelosi, recalling her remarks. “So I got up there and said I thank my father, my constituents for sending me here. My mother, my family was all there. Then I said I told my constituents that when I came here that I would say that I came to fight against HIV and AIDS. This is 1987.”

“If you had told me then that we would be gathered here 30 years later and would not have eradicated HIV and AIDS from the face of the earth I would have never have believed you,” she added.

Pelosi said the country has made “gigantic progress” in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but she acknowledged challenges remain. These include reducing transmission rates among men of color in the South and ensuring people with HIV can access health care.

“We have to vanish HIV/AIDS to the history books,” said Pelosi. “It has been around far too along.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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