An article today in the New York Times reports on the dwindling funds available through the Ryan White program, which has provided not only much-needed medical services to low-income people with HIV, but also non-medical services such as shelter, food and transportation. Though congress expanded the program’s eligible regions, funding did not increase. The result is a financial cut that has many organizations making tough choices – Jennifer Kates, director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation explains:
If we have someone in South Carolina not getting medicines and someone in San Francisco not getting housing, how do we choose?
The article goes on to report that Republicans support providing medical services only and cutting back on other services since medical care is the “main need.” This is an extremely myopic analysis of the situation at hand, ignoring basic human rights such as the right to safe shelter. Even in the strictest medical sense, it doesn’t take a lot of sophisticated analysis to figure out that it might be difficult to manage a complex drug regimen if you don’t have any housing, or that it makes it a lot harder to get to that doctor’s appointment if you don’t have the money for transportation. And with the highest climbs in the rates of HIV infection currently being seen in low-income people and women of color, it’s not hard to figure out who has been hit the hardest by these cuts.
-Verónica Bayetti Flores