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As part of the highly-controversial budget deal in cash-strapped California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a final $489 million dollars in line-item vetoes to the bill the legislature sent him, including cutting funding for HIV testing.
The Office of AIDS suffered $52 million in cuts, which activists say will put thousands at risk as they will have reduced access to HIV testing and treatment.
"With a single stroke of his blue pencil, Governor Schwarzenegger has terminated the state's AIDS programs and, along with it, the lives of some of the state's most vulnerable citizens," said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "With HIV testing programs sidelined and the state's ability to prevent new infections stymied, new infections in California will increase."
Upon signing the bill, the governor said that he had no choice but to make additional cuts because the the legislators had left him with a budget that still contained a $156 million negative reserve.
California has 65,582 reported cases of people living with AIDS in 2007, according to the HIV awareness group, Avert.
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