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Panel: Don’t change AIDS funding

/ Source: The Associated Press

The method used to allocate $1.3 billion in AIDS funds between states and municipalities should remain unchanged, at least for now, a research panel said Friday.

The federal money is allocated based on the estimated number of people with AIDS in each state or community. Congress has suggested a better method might be to use the number of people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, rather than those in whom the symptoms have already appeared.

But a panel of the Institute of Medicine reported Friday that the reporting of people infected with HIV is not complete and accurate enough to use those numbers.

It’s hard to diagnose HIV infection before it becomes AIDS and people begin to show symptoms, many local systems for reporting HIV infections are new, and states differ in how they record and report this information, the panel said.

While the committee, headed by Paul Cleary of Harvard Medical School, recommended retaining the current method for the next four years, it also urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with the states in developing a system to report HIV infections accurately.

The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, enacted in 1990, provides funds to help people with HIV and AIDS who have low incomes and no insurance. In fiscal 2003 some $2 billion was provided, including $1.3 billion allocated to states and municipalities.

The Institute of Medicine is an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on science and health matters.