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    US Government Shutdown Hurts HIV/AIDS Research, LGBT Livelihood

    1-PHOTO-Capitol-ArchitectoftheCapitolMembers of our community are among the hardest hit from the US government shutdown that, as of this writing, continues.

    According to a recent federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, at least 13,600 federal workers identify as LGBT, with10.8 percent of all federal employees preferring not to say. That means tens of thousands of people from our community are furloughed right now, with many living from paycheck to paycheck and worried about how they will pay their bills. At the Bay Times, we have several friends and family members who received the harsh furlough document late Monday night.

    Government departments and agencies have “contingency staffing plans for operations in the absence of enacted annual appropriations.” Thankfully, such documents are usually just filed paperwork, put aside for a rainy day. That day has come, though, and the situation is dire, particularly where health care is concerned.

    According to such documents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “will continue minimal support to protect the health and well-being of US citizens here and abroad through a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center.”

    The CDC is also “unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program, outbreak detection and linking across state boundaries using genetic and molecular analysis, continuous updating of disease treatment and prevention recommendations (e.g., HIV, TB, STDs, hepatitis), and technical assistance, analysis, and support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance.”

    The Health Resources and Services Administration is now “unable to make payments for the Children’s Hospital GME Program and Vaccine Injury Compensation Claims. Monitoring of Ryan White Grants – particularly AIDS Drug Assistance Program Grants, Emergency Relief Grants and Comprehensive Care would be insufficient to assure states, cities and communities are complying with statutory guidance and necessary performance.”

    As for all funding cuts, the poorest and most in need suffer the greatest. Quarterly grants for certain senior nutrition programs, child welfare services, and community services have been discontinued. When national monuments and parks close, there
    is a domino effect, hurting small business owners in the area who service visitors.

    We hope that, by the time you read this story, the shutdown will have ended. We agree with President Obama, who said, “Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time, and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”