*1 Take, for example, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, enacted by Congress in 1990, which Haag calls “the backbone of services for people living with HIV all over the country, including here in Boston and in Massachusetts.” The CARE Act was up for reauthorization in September; it has yet to be addressed by Congress. “The fact that something of that significance has not been reauthorized is something that is very worrisome to those of us working within HIV and AIDS,” Haag says.
*2 Since 2001, the state’s HIV/AIDS-prevention and -treatment budget has been cut 30 percent. For fiscal year 2007, Project ABLE (AIDS Budget Legislative Effort) is calling for a $5.5 million increase, which would help provide drugs to the uninsured, prevention programs in minority communities, and testing services throughout the state (an estimated 25 percent of people in Massachusetts who are HIV-positive don’t know their status).
*3 Haag expresses some frustration that AAC efforts to merge various Greater Boston service agencies, reducing overhead while preserving services, haven’t been more successful.
*4 Two other potential research goals:
a) Drug treatments with fewer side effects.
b) Aggressive testing and marketing of microbicides, the vaginal creams, gels, and foams that women could use to prevent HIV transmission. Haag is particularly enthusiastic about microbicide use in immigrant communities, where women can have difficulty negotiating condom use with their partners. She is also curious about whether microbicides could be used to prevent HIV transmission during anal sex.*5 One of the AAC’s biggest accomplishments last year was shifting public opinion in favor of the Pharmacy Access bill, which would make it possible for citizens to buy clean needles without a prescription. The House passed the bill last November; the Senate is expected to take it up shortly, once health care is out of the way.