Schwarzenegger used line-item veto to make drastic, dangerous cuts to AIDS funding

Arnold Schwarzenegger used the line-item veto to impose additional budget cuts yesterday. Calitics reported the cuts “Attack Parks, Farms, Kids and HIV Patients.” Robert Cruickshank outlined what Arnold did with his line-item veto power, noting:

we witness the damage that the line-item veto causes in the hands of a right-wing governor bent on using it to achieve his long-desired destruction of public services.

The AIDS community was particularly hard hit. Maybe this finally knocks Arnold off that pedestal of being perceived as a different kind of Republican. He’s not. He’s one of them.

The Advocate calls the cuts a “devastating blow”:

In a revised state budget that calls for an additional $489 million in cuts, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger struck a devastating blow to HIV/AIDS service groups by slashing funding for prevention and care management programs.

More from Rex Wockner:

Schwarzenegger decimated AIDS services across the board, leaving full funding in place only for epidemic surveillance and for the drugs that suppress HIV.

Although the cuts curtailed state funding for HIV-related education (an 80% cut), prevention (80% cut), counseling (70% cut), testing (70%), primary medical care (50%), home care (50%) and housing (20%), one cut stood out in particular: the termination of all funding for the Office of AIDS’ Therapeutic Monitoring Program.

For some 35,000 working- and middle-class Californians whose HIV care is paid for by the state, that program pays for viral-load testing and drug-resistance testing.

Viral-load testing is mandatory in HIV care, as it is the only way to determine if a particular HIV drug cocktail is working in a given patient. Drug-resistance testing comes into play when a drug cocktail that had been working stops working in a given patient. The two types of testing together guide a doctor in getting a patient on a new drug cocktail so the patient’s viral load again becomes undetectable.

Patients whose viral load is undetectable are very unlikely to develop deadly HIV-related opportunistic infections, and they are dramatically less infectious than those whose virus is not suppressed. The Swiss government has said that an HIV-positive individual whose viral load has been undetectable for six months in a row is essentially unable to transmit HIV sexually.

“These were extraordinarily difficult cuts to make and they are cuts that will have consequences,” said Al Lundeen, spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. “More people will become infected.”

Great legacy, Arnold. Maria should be so proud of you. More people will become infected. More people will get sicker and need more care. More people will probably die. Arnold really is the Terminator.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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