Protest over possible cuts to HIV/AIDS programs

June 10, 2009 12:17:30 PM PDT
About 100 people gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall today to protest budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would take more than $80 million away from HIV and AIDS programs in the state.

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The proposal, part of Schwarzenegger's May revision for the state's 2009-10 budget, would eliminate $55.5 million from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and other state HIV/AIDS programs, as well as $24.6 million in HIV education and prevention programs.

Several speakers at the protest condemned the proposed cuts to prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, which Jason Riggs, spokesman for the Stop AIDS Project, said will end up costing more in other services like emergency care.

"It's stupid, and they're putting lives at risk," Riggs said.

Many of the protesters planned to travel via bus to Sacramento for a 1:30 p.m. rally at the state Capitol that could bring up to 1,000 people from around the state, according to Brian Basinger, executive director of the AIDS Housing Alliance/SF.

As of the end of April, 5,215 HIV cases and 28,179 AIDS cases had been reported in San Francisco, according to the California Office of AIDS, part of the state's Department of Public Health.

Those totals are the second-highest among California counties, behind only Los Angeles County.

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