Did Spain just sentence to death thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS?

Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

Spain is passing through tough economic times, and undoubtedly sacrifices need to be made to pull it out of the crisis. But at what cost? At first glance, the state budget 2012 practically puts thousands of people leaving with HIV/AIDS in Spain on a death row: funding for HIV programs has been cut to zero, from c. six million in the previous year.

Why them, why so drastically? Did people leaving with HIV/AIDS cause the economic crisis rattling Spain and most of Europe? Are there no other, less cruel, budget reductions that could have been made?

Why was the budget for the royal family only cut by 2% (c. 170,000 euro)? Could not the crown, in spirit of solidarity, let go of some of luxuries, such as hunting elephants or other animals in different parts of the world? The defence has not been particularly squeezed, either — but does Spain really face military threats? And why does the Catholic church continue receiving considerable state subsidies, in addition to enjoying a tax-free status, isn´t Spain constitutionally a secular state?

One must question the reasoning behind at the same time cutting the education budget by 20% and the health budget by 6% amounting to nearly 10 million euro. Immigrants in irregular situation are among the first on a chopping bloc being from now on denied access to healthcare save for emergency services (and make no mistake: whenever sacrifice of the most vulnerable begins, it never ends there, it goes on to require more and more victims).

Further to add an insult to injury, the Spanish government announced that it would support a failing bank with billions of euro. Thus banks, chiefly responsible for the current economic crisis, get state handouts taking funds from the innocent, in this case people with HIV/AIDS, as well as immigrants, pensioners, and young people. What´s more, the debt burden for bank bailouts is shifted onto future generations, both directly — through a growing public debt — and indirectly — through cutting educational and professional opportunities for the youth.

The 2012 budget reductions, while being necessary and perhaps inevitable, show that something is fundamentally wrong with the Spanish state´s priorities and the state has better fix them before more damage is done.