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HIV advocates eying sequestration cuts
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Next year, Illinois will lose housing for 125 families impacted by HIV, will see 52 additional HIV infections and conduct 4,300 fewer HIV tests. That is according to a new fact sheet the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) issued.

AFC has released a document that looks at the possible impact of sequestration on Illinois HIV prevention and care efforts. Sequestration, or the automatic across-the-board federal budget cut process that lawmakers agreed to in 2011, will go into effect come January unless Congress acts to prevent it.

In Illinois, that could mean deep budget cuts for HIV care and prevention.

"It's really taking us in the wrong direction," said John Peller, vice president of policy for AFC. "The cuts that might come with sequestration would really worsen the lives of people living with HIV."

According to AFC, anticipated cuts will total approximately $10 million in Illinois alone. That means an additional 631 people will lose access to medication through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, 66 additional people with HIV will go undiagnosed and services for HIV care across the board would be significantly cut, AFC says.

A fact sheet the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors put out projects bleak numbers nationally as well. According to that document, more than 15,700 people will lose access to HIV medication and an additional 50,000 people with be infected with HIV each year.

President Obama has said that sequestration will be avoided and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed a commitment to heading it off.

But Peller said that AIDS advocates also worry that without drastic revenue increases next year, HIV funding could be hard-hit, regardless.

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