(CNSNews.com) – The federal government spent $6.1 billion on influenza-related programs in 2006, less than half as much as the $13.7 billion dollars it spent on HIV/AIDS programs that year, according to figures provided to CNSNews.com by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
During the same time, seasonal flu claimed 56,326 lives in the U.S., while AIDS-related deaths stood at 12,113.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only $2.6 million was spent on influenza under the organization’s infectious disease division, which works to minimize illness, suffering, and death caused by the flu.
2006, which is the latest year for which statistics are available, was an anomalous year for HHS flu spending, because most of the federal allotment for influenza – $5.6 billion – came as a result of a one-time budget request, as part of then-President George W. Bush’s initiative to prepare for a national flu pandemic. According to HHS, influenza spending declined to $166 million in 2007.
Flu-related spending was focused primarily on research and purchasing vaccines, according to the HHS. The federal government buys flu vaccines and anti-viral medications as part of the CDC’s national medical stockpile.
CDC spent $60 million buying pediatric vaccines, $30 million to pay manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production and $104 million to buy vaccines for adults.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $119 million researching vaccines to combat possible new strains of flu.
HHS spent another $120 million to develop a year-round surge production capacity in case of a pandemic.
More than half of government spending on HIV/AIDS – over $3 billion – was dedicated to discovering an AIDS vaccine, while another $2 billion was dedicated to providing drugs to those afflicted with HIV.
HHS spent over $10 billion providing drugs and other types of medical care to people infected with HIV.
Cases of the flu, meanwhile, are so numerous that CDC doesn’t track individual cases; it only tracks deaths caused by the flu. Officially, the CDC estimates that flu kills more than 36,000 people each year; with hundreds of thousands more requiring hospitalization. Most – 43,285 – of the flu deaths in 2006 were people over the age of 75.
Of the 12,000 people killed by HIV, more than 8,700 (8,756) were men. Most of the HIV deaths in 2006 – 8,387 – were between the ages of 35 and 54, the age when most – 52 percent – also contracted the disease in that year.
According to CDC, 66 percent of those infected with HIV contracted the disease through homosexual conduct or intravenous drug use.