This week read about President Joe Biden requesting money to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the Texas Legislature hearing about bills that target the LGBT community.

Biden Requests Funds to End HIV/AIDS Epidemic

President Joe Biden’s preliminary budget request for the fiscal year 2022 allocates $670 million for ending the HIV epidemic, calling for a $267 million increase in funding.

According to the funding request, the Department of Health and Human Services will use the money to “aggressively reduce new HIV cases while increasing access to treatment, expanding the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis [also known as PrEP], and ensuring equitable access to services and supports.”

The request also directs federal dollars towards addressing racial disparities in healthcare, the opioid epidemic, and veteran mental healthcare and suicide prevention.

Executive Director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute Carl Schmid said in a statement, “While it falls short of what the community has requested, if this funding is realized it will continue the momentum already created and make further progress in ending HIV in the U.S. Efforts to end HIV will help eradicate an infectious disease that we have been battling for the last 40 years and help correct racial and health inequities in our nation.”

The budget is expected to go through negotiations in the Senate before going into effect for the next fiscal year.

Texas Legislature to Hear Anti-LGBT Bills

Texas

Texas State Capitol building. Photo credit: Daniel Mayer, Wikipedia.

The Texas General Assembly will hear several bills targeting LGBT community members, as well as individuals living with HIV.

House Bill 1424 would allow medical professionals to refuse to perform procedures, including life-saving care, based on religious or moral beliefs. HB 1399 and SB 1646 work together to expand the definition of child abuse to include gender-affirming care and prohibit transgender youth from accessing insurance for such care, while HB 369 increases penalties in criminal proceedings for those who expose others to HIV, knowingly or unknowingly.

According to Equality Texas, the state has seen a 50% increase in anti-LGBT legislation being introduced at the capitol. The organization said in an issue brief, “With [state Republicans’] focus on limiting or denying healthcare, these bills are explicit about their disregard for LGBTQ+ lives.”

All of the bills are currently in committee and would require passage through the state House and Senate to become law.


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