HIV Tests and New Diagnoses Declined After California Budget Cuts, but Reallocating Funds Helped Reduce Impact

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 33, no. 3, Mar. 2014, p. 418-426

by Arleen Leibowitz, Karen Byrnes, Adriane Wynn, Kevin Farrell

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Historically, California supplemented federal funding of HIV prevention and testing so that Californians with HIV could become aware of their infection and obtain lifesaving treatment. However, budget deficits in 2009 led the state to eliminate its supplemental funding for HIV prevention. We analyzed the impact of California's HIV resource allocation change between state fiscal years 2009 and 2011. We found that the number of HIV tests declined 19 percent, from 66,629 to 53,760, in local health jurisdictions with high HIV burden. In low-burden jurisdictions, the number of HIV tests declined 90 percent, from 20,302 to 2,116. New diagnoses fell from 2,434 in 2009 to 2,235 in 2011 (calendar years) in high-burden jurisdictions and from 346 to 327 in low-burden ones. California's budget crunch prompted state and local programs to redirect remaining HIV funds from risk reduction education to testing activities. Thus, the impact of the budget cuts on HIV tests and new HIV diagnoses was smaller than might have been expected given the size of the cuts. As California's fiscal outlook improves, we recommend that the state restore supplemental funding for HIV prevention and testing.

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