PHOENIX – "You should expect to see approvals that will unlock treatment for people in need,” said President Donald Trump Thursday morning, committing to solve our nation's opioid problem.
But there are skeptics, like Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.
"What I would say to the president on that is, 'Show me the money,'" she responded when asked about President Trump’s announcement.
But there is no new money to show.
Declaring opioids a public health emergency, among other things, will only allow states to shift current federal funds -- which includes HIV and AIDS resources.
"It's not going to be good for anyone,” said Jonathan Brier, the director of marketing at Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a Phoenix-based HIV treatment and prevention fundraising organization.
Brie said he is concerned about resources getting reallocated to the opioid addiction problem, especially considering clients of his organization get more than just HIV treatment.
"We are working through addiction issues too,” said Brier. “We have case management providers who work with clients to ensure that all aspects of their wellbeing are addressed."
Part of a San Francisco Chronicle report reads "There is some logic to tying HIV prevention programs to opioid abuse, because HIV can be transmitted through re-used needles."
But that may be oversimplifying it, which the report also noted.
"There's a huge overlap,” confirmed Brier, but not necessarily cause-and-effect.
Heroin addicts may use needles, but the DEA says 80 percent of heroin users started with the abuse of opioids prescribed by a doctor.
And the CDC says only 6 percent new HIV diagnoses were tied to intravenous drug use.
So, while they may be connected, Brier said both should be treated together.
"[The opioid epidemic] is a national emergency,” he said.
It's still not clear if funding will be taken from HIV. But should one come at the expense of the other?
"If those [funds] are removed or redirected, I think we'll see a really catastrophic -- an opportunity for things to do downhill in all aspects -- whether it be addiction and substance abuse or HIV treatment," said Brier.
As it is, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation says resources for HIV treatment and prevention are scarce.
So, would it be detrimental to efforts? Multiple health care agencies and advocates say yes.
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